Cal lacrosse downs Oregon on Friday, falls to Colorado on Sunday’s Senior Day

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During an intense first half, Cal lacrosse exchanged blow after blow with Oregon, reaching a halftime score of 8-8. Heading into the second half, it was clear that one team was going to give, and head coach Brooke Eubanks made sure her team would not.

“I usually go in and talk about the stats, but I kinda threw them in the corner and said: ‘It doesn’t matter. You guys played a great first half, but it doesn’t matter if we can’t come out and play,’ ” Eubanks said.

Over the weekend, California Memorial Stadium saw Cal outrun Oregon, 15-13. Sunday’s Senior Day, however, was spoiled by Colorado, 18-11, bringing the Bears to a 6-10 record.

In the first matchup, the Bears didn’t need to be told twice as they punished the Ducks with a five-goal run to start the second half. The peak of execution came on Susie Ropp’s pretty spin move and juke that preceded the sophomore attacker’s second goal on the day.

The goal was set up by a swift clear from senior defender Meredith Haggerty, who has a habit of making defenses look a step slow.

A little bit of Friday the 13th misfortune affected Oregon’s offense down the stretch, as the Ducks had shots hit the goal post on three separate occasions while the Bears took the lead.

Oregon eventually managed to avoid hitting the post and willed itself back into the game, setting up a 14-13 score with 9:51 remaining.

In addition to the goal post, junior goalkeeper Jenny Wilkens stepped up in a big way to keep the Ducks at bay. The junior ended three straight Oregon possessions with saves, giving Cal a chance to boost its late lead to two goals. Wilkens posted one more save, and the Ducks could not score again.

Cal’s bench cleared as the team sprinted across the field and dogpiled Wilkens in celebration of the program’s first Pac-12 home victory.

The Buffaloes posed a major challenge to the Bears as Cal honored its veterans with Senior Day festivities.

Just as Cal had finished celebrating, Colorado got straight to business. The Buffaloes’ top two scorers, senior Darby Kiernan and junior Miranda Stinson, did plenty of damage in the first 10 minutes alone, recording a combined six goals in the first 11 minutes of play.

Down 7-2, Cal’s defense buckled down and shut Colorado out for the remaining 20 minutes of the half.

The Buffaloes’ defense also proved sturdy for the most part thanks to redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Julia Lisella, who made a heaping seven saves before the end of the half.

But redshirt sophomore attacker Kirsten Swanson punched in back-to-back goals to keep things close, and Colorado held a 7-4 lead into the break.

The Bears continued to hang around for a portion of the second half. Ten minutes in, redshirt sophomore midfielder Eliza Christman brought the game to 11-8 with a juke and a hesitation move that tricked her two defenders as well as the goalie.

Meanwhile, Haggerty was a tornado at midfield as she collected a season-high nine draws. Redshirt senior Elizabeth Koehler’s four draws aren’t as eye-catching in the stat sheet, but Koehler showcased the intangibles, which make her a crucial cog of this Cal team.

“When Lizzy (Koehler) and I are going up for the draw … I’m telling myself, ‘There is no way in hell the other team is getting this ball,’ and … Lizzy’s my best friend, and so I know that she is thinking the same thing,” Haggerty said.

The duo left it all on the field to protect Cal’s home territory, but the gritty play was not enough to take down the top-ranked team in the conference. Colorado ran away with it at the end with a 7-3 run, sending the Bears to their 10th loss of the season.

“I am extremely proud to be able to be part of this Cal lacrosse team … a bunch of absolutely incredible people,” Haggerty said. “I wouldn’t want to have my senior year with any others.”

Armen Aprahamian covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @armnhammer_.