After a long road trip, Cal lacrosse finally came back to the Bay, but the team fell to conference opponents No. 13 USC and Arizona State.
With a top-15 opponent in the house Friday afternoon, California Memorial Stadium buzzed with an excited crowd.
The Trojans started off well, taking a 2-0 lead within the first 10 minutes, but the Bears countered with a smooth connection between redshirt sophomore Kirsten Swanson and redshirt freshman Lauren Hickman.
With 19:06 remaining in the first half, Swanson found her slashing teammate in front of the goal. In one motion, Hickman collected the ball and whipped into the back corner of the net, trimming the deficit to one.
The crowd boomed in excitement as Cal scored its first goal, but as the half dragged on, the Bears would fall behind and enter the break with a 7-2 deficit.
USC’s sophomore and 2017 MPSF Rookie of the Year Kerrigan Miller was the main problem for Cal, as she scored four times in the first half alone.
In the second half, however, Cal’s defense looked entirely difference, shutting down Miller after the half and winning the individual matchups.
“We were playing a man to man the entire time, but our biggest change was our mentality,” said senior defender Meredith Haggerty. “(In the) first half, we had a lot fouls, we were getting a little chippy, checking a lot … and so (in) the second half, we tried to stay more composed, focusing on our helping.”
The Bears’ defense committed seven fewer fouls in the second half than the first, and after allowing seven goals in the 30 minutes, Cal held USC to three in the latter 30 minutes.
Miller scored a final goal in garbage time during the last minute of play, but that goal aside, Cal won the second half, 3-2, showing potential of a close rematch Friday when the Bears travel to Los Angeles.
Two days later, Arizona State and Cal, a pair of struggling teams, matched up in what proved to be an even match, one which extended to overtime.
After the Sun Devils’ initial 2-0 start, the Bears went on a 10-minute rampage in which they scored six straight goals, each of which came from a different player and three being unassisted.
Arizona State weathered the storm and closed the gap to 6-5 with three unanswered goals of its own, but Cal snuck a goal in before halftime and entered the break with a 2-point lead.
The Bears threatened to pull away with the game in the second half, taking a 9-6 lead midway with 16 minutes remaining. The Sun Devils, however, didn’t stop pushing and put together a three-goal run and tied the game as the Bears’ offense sputtered.
Freshman attacker Nikki Zaccaro set the offense into motion by assisting on two goals, but Arizona State responded with two goals of its own and forced overtime at 11 all.
Unfortunately for the home fans, the Sun Devils’ junior attacker Kerri Clayton made her presence felt for one last time, connecting with a teammate to win the match, 12-11. Clayton completed an exceptional performance in which she scored four goals and tallied three assists.