Bears to face Dukes for first home game of year

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Unlike this past Sunday, the Cal lacrosse team will not have the luxury of knowing how its opponents play when it faces James Madison for the first time in program history on Thursday.

The Bears already had an idea of how the game against St. Mary’s would end because of their previous string of victories against the Gaels. On Sunday, the Bears outshot St. Mary’s 37-19, topping their conference foe with an 18-6 victory and improving their record to 20-1 in the all-time series against the Gaels.

“On Sunday we learned that we’ve got multiple people that can step up on our attacking end to put the ball at the back of the net,” said coach Ginger Miles. “Even though we may have made a few mistakes on Sunday, we always had a teammate there to get the ball back and make sure that mistake didn’t hurt us, which is something I’m really proud of.”

Thursday, Cal will play its second game of the season — and its first at home — against James Madison at 5 p.m. at Witter Field. Cal can only guess how the Dukes will play based the the latter’s 2012 season statistics.

James Madison won its two preseason exhibition matches against Dartmouth and the Wales National Team. The two-time defending Colonial Athletic Association champion has also been predicted to win the CAA women’s lacrosse title again in 2012.

“It’s definitely different this time around,” Miles said. “We know we’re gonna have to be poised and composed, and we’re gonna have to stop a fast break and hustle for ground ball opportunities. In this upcoming game, we need to make sure that when there’s an opportunity to get a possession, we finish that opportunity and end up with the ball on a Cal stick.”

In addition, the Bears will be looking to counteract the Dukes’ dangerous junior attacker Casey Ancarrow — the 2012 CAA preseason Player of the Year, a 2011 Intercollegiate WLCA All-America Third Team honoree and a member of the U.S. National Team. Ancarrow was named to the watch list for the 2011 and 2012 Tewaaraton Trophy, given to the nation’s top college lacrosse player.

However, Cal has a sharp midfield attack of its own in junior Melissa Humphrey — who leads the Bears with nine points— and junior Alexa Rozelle — who leads with six goals this season. Although this upcoming match will certainly be a step up from their game on Sunday, the Bears are confident that their defense and midfield attack is strong enough to match up with those of the Dukes.

“We know that Casey’s a big piece of their attack and she’s a really integral player for them,” Miles said. “We’re going to have to play our hardest because they’re going to be a big defensive challenge for us, but we’ve been working hard this week and we’ve got our game plan set, so I think we’re going to do just fine.”