All-MPSF upperclassmen look to lead balanced Bears attack

Eugene W. Lau/File
Senior Tara Arolla earned All-MPSF first team honors last year. The attacker led the squad in goals with 36, four of which were game winners.

This year, the Cal lacrosse team has one goal: to be an “every-half” team.

Because the Bears have had a tendency to pick up their game or pull through in the last 30 minutes of the match, they have been characterized as a “second-half” team. This spring, with the addition of new head coach Ginger Miles, their point of focus is to ensure that they come out on the field focused from the very first draw of the game.

“We’ve really been working on our mentality throughout the fall and throughout our preseason, especially with the new coaching staff,” senior Emily Abbood said. “Watching us in scrimmages last weekend, I really think that we’ve put that whole ‘second-half team’ thing in the backseat and really proved ourselves.”

On Feb. 5, Cal scrimmaged against several of its conference opponents, including Stanford, UC Davis, St. Mary’s and Fresno. The Bears finished the mini-tournament winning three games and losing one hard-fought battle against the No. 6 Cardinal, the victor of the 2011 MPSF championship.

For Cal, being able to play some outside competition proved to be a much needed change of pace from its usual preseason routine of just intra-squad scrimmaging. During the Play Day, they moved the ball well and created numerous scoring opportunities; however, the Bears also discovered certain aspects of the game they needed to work on and have since been practicing for their first game of the season against St. Mary’s this coming Sunday.

Cal has high expectations behind a core group of upperclassmen, including first-team All-MPSF selections in junior Megan Takacs and senior Tara Arolla. The Bears are excited to show off their newer members such as goalie Megan McGinnis, who will fill the void left by former goalie Allie Shropshire.

“One of our focuses this year is really making sure that we have a balanced attack so we’re not a one-headed or two-headed monster but that everybody’s contributing and that we have a lot of threats that other teams have to contend with,” Miles said. “We’ve got a lot of speed and strength and athleticism in our midfield, and we’ll be rotating a few different people in and out, so we’ll have fresh legs always.”

The Bears’ 2011 season was tainted with inconsistent play as the team struggled to earn more than two consecutive wins. Nevertheless, Cal produced its first winning season since 2005, going 9-8. After taking fourth place in the MPSF, Cal was picked to finish in the same spot this season.

“Even though they’re picking us to come in fourth again, I think for us, we’re not concerned so much about the rankings or about how other people perceive us,” Miles said. “We know that if we come out and execute for 60 minutes the game plan that we set in place, we’re going to win a lot of games this season. So I don’t care what the record says — I don’t think these guys care what the record says; it’s about coming out there and winning.”