Cal lacrosse prepares to face Vermont at home

Sam Engel/Staff

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Coming right off the heels of its first win against Longwood on Tuesday evening, the Cal women’s lacrosse team (1-3) will face Vermont (1-4) on Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

In their game Tuesday, the Bears demonstrated how aggressively they could play for the first time this season. They started each play strong and dominated throughout the game, winning draw controls 18-7. Seven of their players made goals and eight scored points. Additionally, the Bears had a tough defense, causing nine turnovers and holding the Lancers to only three goals in the second half. Freshman goalie Jenny Wilkens performed particularly well, with eight important and game-determining saves split evenly between the halves.

Though Tuesday’s game was an improvement on past performances, Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks acknowledges that the team still has a lot of work to do and that there remains progress to be had.

“I think we need to work on our ball movement offensively and being able to find our open player quicker,” Eubanks said. “I also think we need to work on our defensive adjustments and being able to adjust quicker to what the other team is doing offensively. It takes us a little while to do that and I think we need to rebound quicker.”

Vermont is coming to play Cal at the end of its weeklong trip to the West Coast. It is coming to Berkeley after losing to both No. 11 USC on March 5 and UC Davis on March 8, in overtime.

Eubanks is aware of the challenges that this game will present.

“Vermont is really good at the draw,” Eubanks said. “There is one player in particular, No. 23. She is very good at placing it, very good at the draw.”

No. 23, Catamounts senior midfielder Vanessa VanderZalm, has had a record-breaking season. In a game against Colgate on Feb. 20, which Vermont won 14-12, she became the seventh player in Catamounts women’s lacrosse history to score more than 150 points during her career. The 2016 season is just starting, so VanderZalm is likely to break even more records in her final year as a Division 1 student-athlete. With five additional goals, she will become one of the top five all-time scorers in her program’s history. VanderZalm is also recognized for her talent by the NCAA, as she is one of the active careers leaders in ground balls, caused turnovers, draw controls, draws per game and active scoring leaders.

For Eubanks, Vermont also brings with it a familiar face. She and the Catamounts’ head coach Jen Johnson played together when they were players. In 2005, the two of them competed for Team Canada in the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup.

“It is always fun to compete against one of your former teammates,” Eubanks said. “She was more of a senior player when we first played together, someone I looked up to. It is nice to be able to catch up after the game regardless, win or lose.”

Sarah Goldzweig covers lacrosse. Contact her at [email protected]