Stanford controls possession, defeats Cal for Bears’ final regular season match

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A defense can only do so much for the team when the offense cannot hold possession to give it a rest. On Friday, Cal lacrosse could not retain possession long enough to give its defense much of a chance to stop Stanford, leading to a 17-7 Cardinal win.

“It’s tough to stop a team like that when the majority of the game is on the defensive end. … The defense was coming up with huge stops. It’s just executing on offense,” said redshirt sophomore midfielder Eliza Christman. “There were times, myself included, where we used the first option instead of waiting for the second, third option.”

Stanford finished the half on a five-goal run, stretching a 7-3 lead to a 12-3 halftime score. The Cardinal attack was extremely diverse, with seven different players scoring goals in the second period.

Stanford’s aggressive full-field press was a significant obstacle for Cal, which struggled in getting the ball into the attacking zone and keeping it there. The Cardinal caused 18 turnovers — a number that tripled the Bears’ six.

“First half, they got a ton of shots off,” said head coach Brooke Eubanks. “They led us 19 to 7 in shots in the first half, and I really do think that set the tempo … of the game. It’s hard to stop a team when they are getting so many looks.”

The Cardinal’s run continued after halftime, as Stanford recorded another four goals before the Bears finally cracked Stanford’s press with their own goal, nearly 14 minutes into the half.

For the rest of the game, Cal figured out how to break down the Stanford defense — but the Bears failed to finish their late attempts to score.

On multiple occasions, the Bears cut deep into the attack area, drawing multiple defenders and kicking the ball to an open cutter. Even with such great positioning, Cal was out of rhythm and missed point-blank shots in the last 10 minutes. Stanford’s unforgiving defense had frazzled the home team all game, leaving the offense intimidated and passive.

“It was hard to build momentum that deep into the game. If we were to have those looks earlier on we could have one: capitalized, and two: built off of those missed opportunities,” Eubanks said. “To our credit, we did not give up. … We kept looking for the openings and were able to execute on some of them.”

The Bears did keep pushing their rivals to the very last second, never relenting. In the final four minutes, they secured three goals, nearly doubling their score and matching the Cardinal’s shot total for the half.

“It’s a ‘never give up’ mentality. I also think our team got to the point where we had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder, and unfortunately, it was a little bit too little, too late — something that we should have come into the game with,” Eubanks said. “When you are playing a team like that, you have to be firing on all cylinders.”

Armen Aprahamian covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @armnhammer_.