When the Bears came out on the field on Wednesday evening, they weren’t surprised at all.
The Cal lacrosse team had prepared perfectly for its crucial conference matchup against UC Davis. The Bears predicted how the Aggies would play based on their previous meetings, and they learned precisely how to counterattack. Their successful strategy and general approach to the game led to a gratifying 15-10 victory at Aggie Stadium in Davis, Calif.
“We were definitely well-prepared,” said sophomore goalie Megan McGinnis. “We came into this game, and they did exactly what we were expecting.”
The Bears (6-5, 3-2 in the MPSF) took control of the field right from the start of the match, as junior attackers Megan Takacs and Alexa Rozelle notched the first two goals of the game. Although Davis got on the scoreboard with a strike from freshman midfielder Allie Lehner, the Bears surged with a 4-0 run, giving them a commanding 6-1 lead.
The Aggies (5-6, 2-1) went on their own run, getting within two of Cal to make the score 7-5 going into halftime. However, that two-point margin was the closest Davis would get to the Bears.
Cal scored seven of the first nine goals in the second half to claim a 14-7 advantage. The Aggies eventually notched three of the last four goals; however, the Bears kept their opponent at bay to garner their 15-10 victory.
Cal’s heightened defense knocked down any chances Davis had of winning. The team’s preparation for several different situations it could encounter proved to be a successful tactic in overcoming Davis’ attack.
“Defensively, we approached this game with a great deal of tenacity,” said coach Ginger Miles. “We were able to create turnovers, get the ball in the hands of our attackers, and let them do what they do best — which is score goals.”
Although Aggie attacker Elizabeth Datino, who ranks in the top 10 of several NCAA stat categories, led the Aggies with four points, Cal’s defense kept her in check. Sophomore goalie Megan McGinnis especially limited the Aggies’ attack, notching a game-high 10 saves to help the Bears notch their third conference victory.
“(Datino) did get a couple goals on us, but we were able to do some damage control and prevent her from being as lethal as she has been in her other games,” Miles said.
Traditionally, the Bears and the Aggies have battled it out for the fourth place spot in the MPSF conference tournament. Although it is still too early in the season to tell what position Cal is in for the conference, the Bears’ victory against Davis is a crucial one.
“In our minds, this is a huge win,” said Miles. “With only two conference games left, we’re really looking to secure our end of the field and make sure that whether or not we get into the MPSF tournament, we tried our best.”