Some things are not meant to last.
Although the Cal lacrosse team’s (3-4) two-game winning streak ended Friday in its first conference game against No. 7 USC (7-0), it was able to rebound Sunday, winning in overtime against San Diego State (2-6) and bringing its MPSF record to 1-1.
This win was their first against the Aztecs since 2013. The first half of the matchup was considerably low scoring, ending with Cal leading 4-2, but the second half saw increased scoring from both teams. While the Bears remained in the lead for the majority of the game, they were only able to increase their lead to more than two goals once. With just over seven minutes left in the half, the Aztecs tied the game at 8-8. The two teams traded goals once more, and regulation time ended in a tie, 9-9, sending the game into sudden-death overtime.
Just like in the Ohio State game Feb. 19, the Bears’ opponent won the first overtime draw. Freshman goalie Jenny Wilkens, however, caused a turnover and successfully cleared the ball to Cal, which maintained possession until sophomore attack Kate Mattimore made the game-winning goal on a free position shot.
San Diego State had a very aggressive shooting game, finishing with 34 shots, but Wilkens made 20 saves, a personal best. Just seven games into her rookie season, she now ranks third in Cal lacrosse history for most saves in a single game.
“She had a ton of saves, and in overtime she came up with an interception, gave us an opportunity to get the ball to the attack, and our offense was able to perform,” Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks said. “She was an active part of our defense and the first part of our offense.”
The Bears secured this win just two days after a frustrating 15-2 loss against No. 7 USC.
“USC is an awesome team,” Eubanks said. “They are No. 7 in the country and good all over the field. We knew it was going to be a difficult game. I thought our defense played a good first half and was able to limit their scoring. USC was able to keep us to just two goals. We just had trouble scoring.”
Cal and USC were very competitive in the first 20 minutes of the game, as the Bears successfully responded to each of the Trojans first two goals. Shortly after Cal tied the score for the second time, however, USC was able to surge ahead and score 13 unanswered goals before the final whistle blew. The Trojans also outshot the Bears 29-13, a possession count that was greatly exacerbated by Cal’s 17 turnovers.
“We had a hard time against their defense,” Eubanks said. “They run a zone and it is a very good defense. And our attackers were just having a hard time finding the open player and putting the ball in the back of the net.”
USC’s offense presented a lot of challenges as well because it is very balanced as many players have the capacity to shoot and make goals.
For the entire season, the Bears’ coaching staff has vocalized its desire to have a similarly balanced offense. This emphasis has been demonstrated in the past couple of games as many Cal players have shown they are capable of scoring. Junior attack Elizabeth Pellechi and sophomore midfielders Chloe Landry and Meredith Haggerty are tied for the most goals on the team this season with 12. Additionally, junior attack Jena Fritts, the Bear player leading in assists and points, demonstrated her versatility Sunday when she scored twice against SDSU.
“Right now, our stats show we have four or five people that are all within two points of each other,” Eubanks said. “That’s how I want it.”
Sarah Goldzweig covers lacrosse. Contact her at [email protected]