Cal lacrosse begins to close out season against St. Mary

Michael Wan/File

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The Cal lacrosse team (2-10) will begin to close out its season at home this Friday. Its first challenger is St. Mary’s (1-9), one of the only teams the Bears beat in the conference last season, and the game is a must-win if Cal is to stand a chance in the conference.

“The conference teams are huge rivalries, and they are easy to get excited for,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “From here on out, we need every win in order to make it to the MPSF tournament, and we are excited to get back on the field and have another chance.”

Coming off of three straight losses and having yet to win a conference game this season, Cal is in desperate need of win. Currently mirroring the same pattern as last year, when they won just two conference games and four regular-season games, the Bears are currently second to last in the table.

St. Mary’s is in a similar position. The Gaels finished last in the conference in 2016 and lost every game on their schedule, both conference and regular. Similarly to Cal, they have yet to win an MSPF match this season. With only three games remaining after Friday, St. Mary’s chance of making the tournament is the only one more remote than Cal’s.

“We did the scouting report for St. Mary’s,” Eubanks said. “We really started focusing on what St. Mary’s strengths are, but also what we need to fix going forward — that final layer of detail in making sure that we are taking care of the small things, because ultimately, that’s going to make the difference for us.”

Senior captain Jena Fritts leads the Bears in both points (41) and goals (33). Her output far exceeds that of the leading scorer for the Gaels, junior Jocelyn Lubert, who has netted only 21 goals this year. Freshman Susie Ropp has been the surprise of the season for Cal and has the second-most points on the team with 16 goals and 11 assists.

While the Bears have found a primary goalie to rely on in sophomore Jenny Wilkens, St. Mary’s has used three different goalies almost equally this season. Freshman Meg Sheehan barely edges out the others for the most time in a game, 208:09 minutes, as well as for the most saves, 30. Wilkens has a total of 107 saves this season, and in the match against St. Mary’s last year, she played a majority of the game and made 13 saves in the 15-5 win.

From the start, making it into the MPSF tournament has been one of the main goals for Cal. The incredibly unlikely road to the tournament for the Bears is through wins in their final five games, which include No. 5 Colorado and Bay Area-rival Stanford. While Cal will have the home-field advantage for all but one of these games, that factor hasn’t helped so far this season — the Bears have a record of 1-5 at home. Cal has lost four games by one goal this season, so you can partly credit some of its record to bad luck. But to make an unlikely playoff run, it’ll need all the luck it can muster. We’ll get a sense of which way the dice roll after tomorrow’s game.

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