The Cal women’s lacrosse team (2-3) is entering the second part of its season and is looking for its third consecutive win after beating Longwood and Vermont last week. The Bears begin conference play against No. 9 USC (5-0) Friday at Memorial Stadium.
“Vermont we might not play each year, but USC we see year in and year out,” said head coach Brooke Eubanks. “Rivalries are there. Competitive juices are definitely flowing.”
USC is the third ranked team on Cal’s schedule this season. The Trojans have been improving significantly since their first season in 2013 and after just four seasons, they are already a top 10 team.
“USC has a very talented program,” Eubanks said. “They have really been on the rise since they started. Great coaching staff, great players. They are aggressive, physical. We are focusing on getting back to basics, on our fundamentals in offense and defense.”
The Trojans’ success has all been realized under the direction of head coach Lindsey Munday, who is considered by many to be one of the best U.S. lacrosse players of all time. She played for Northwestern from 2003 to 2006. While there, she was repeatedly recognized for her achievements and was named to the ALC or American Lacrosse Conference, second team her freshman and sophomore years and the All-ALC first team and was a first team All-American her junior and senior years. Under her leadership, the Wildcats won the NCAA championships in both 2005 and 2006. Munday went on to play for the U.S. National Team from 2006 to 2013, of which she was the sole captain her final year. She is among the top-six U.S. players in points, goals and assists, and she won two FIL World Cups in a row, in 2009 and 2013.
After the USC game, the Bears’ conference games will continue when they play San Diego State (1-5) at home Sunday.
“SDSU is a get-after-it type of team,” Eubanks said. “They never let up. They are constantly pushing. I think that is definitely one of their strengths. They are very athletic.”
The Aztecs are led by head coach Kylee White, who, like Munday, has led her team since its program’s beginning. White played for Ohio State, graduating in 2002. She is also a four-time member of the Canadian National Lacrosse Team and played in the World Cup from 2001 to 2013. Her final year, she lost to the U.S. Team captained by Munday. White also played with Eubanks on the Canadian team from 2003 to 2013, through three World Cups.
“She is a very good friend of mine, someone that is definitely a peer and mentor, someone that I talk to,” Eubanks said. “We chat often, but obviously the week of the game we will be focused on our teams.”
For the entire season, Eubanks has emphasized the importance of teamwork and continues to expect that as Cal prepares to play USC and SDSU. She has been especially vocal about this since Bella Huther left the team two weeks ago and after attackers Elizabeth Pellechi and Lizz Lavie finished Friday as the Bears’ primary scorers
Eubanks also wants to see freshman goalie Jenny Wilkens continue to perform at the level she has been playing at this year. In every game her rookie season, Wilkens has demonstrated the extent to which she is an important addition to the team.
“I hope that she can build off of the confidence that she has had in the first five games,” Eubanks said. “Being that it is her first conference game, she might feel a little more pressure. But it is also an opportunity to play a top team in the country and really show what she has been working on.”
Sarah Goldzweig covers lacrosse. Contact her at [email protected]