Cal lacrosse heads back on road for San Diego State matchup

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The Cal lacrosse team (2-7) will end its nine-day break Sunday against San Diego State (5-3) on the road, the team’s first away game in five matches. Cal last played March 16 against Marquette, and the Bears triumphed, 18-11, to end a five-game losing streak. Cal will play Brown the following Wednesday in San Diego as well and then play USC in Los Angeles on April 2 to complete its Southern California series.

“(These away games) will be nice, especially because they will be over spring break,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “Obviously they will have their academics that they are going to have to take care of, but it’s not going to be hanging over their head like other away games. Normally we go to the East Coast during spring break, and it can be snowing and cold, but we are going to have nice weather and a lot of team bonding time.”

Last season, the Bears beat the Aztecs 10-9 in overtime, pulling off one of their two wins against conference opponents. Then-sophomore Kate Mattimore scored the winning goal on a free position shot, and then-freshman goalie Jenny Wilkens made an astounding 20 saves, a career-high tied for third in school single-game history.

It’s been a tough start to the season for the Bears, only winning two of their nine games. With the goal of making it to the MPSF tournament, which requires placing in the top-six teams, Cal must make the most of its remaining eight games.

“We’ve only played one conference game so we have the rest of our conference games to look forward to, and we only have one nonconference game left,” Eubanks said. “We’ve really been changing gears and using this as a reset and reflecting on things we need to change going forward. We are going to use this as a spark for the second half of the season.”

This season, San Diego State is in a similar position to Cal. Each team has only played one opponent from their conference, Oregon, and they both lost. In order to place in the MPSF tournament, which both teams failed to do last season, they need to win a majority of their upcoming games. This, however, is much tougher than it seems, with top teams No. 4 Colorado and No. 10 USC in their way.

“We’ve told everyone that the slate is clean,” Eubanks said. “Spots can still be earned, so we’ve done a lot of intense drills, really trying to make it as game-like as possible. We are pushing them to take advantage of these seven days that we’ve had off with no games.”

While Eubanks takes a positive outlook for the next half of the season, there is a big challenge ahead. In order to improve, the team must maintain the confidence and composure it had against Marquette in its remaining games. Every loss from here on out is a major strike against its chances to make it to the conference tournament.

Sophie Durham covers lacrosse. Contact her at [email protected].