Cal lacrosse will start its season with a scrimmage against the English national team Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The Bears will host England in this friendly match with the goal of gaining some useful practice reps against unfamiliar faces before the regular season starts.
The Bears’ head coach, Brooke Eubanks, announced in December that seniors Caroline Corzel and Jenny Wilkens, as well as redshirt juniors Kirsten Swanson and Eliza Christman, would be the team captains for the 2019 season. This is the first season in which these four players will be captains, so Thursday is an important practice run for the new team leaders.
The team is hoping to improve on a poor 2018 season that concluded with a 6-12 record, including going just 2-8 in conference play. The team also lost its final three games of the season, so the friendly match will not only prepare the Bears for the 2019 season, which starts Feb. 8 against Michigan, but can also be used to help the Bears end their losing streak.
England’s women’s national team is ranked third in the world, as the team won bronze in the 2017 Women’s World Cup that it hosted in Guildford, England. Although the game may only be a scrimmage, the Bears will be out to prove themselves and hopefully earn a victory against a prestigious team to propel them into the 2019 season.
On the contrary to England’s success, the Bears struggled to score last season, averaging only 13.17 points per game. This number ultimately landed them at 97th in scoring in Division I competition.
Team captains Corzel and Swanson will look to turn around this scoring drought this season, leading the team from the attacking positions. The team ranked similarly last season in shots on goal, at 95th, so offensive execution is desperately needed to fix things for the Bears this year.
The Bears’ struggles defensively were no joke either, as the team only managed 6.33 forced turnovers per game. This had the team sitting at No. 105 out of 115 teams in this category — not a pretty place to be.
Goalkeeper Wilkens will attempt to control the team from inside the net as the lone captain on the defensive side of the field. Wilkens will be eager to improve this season after only averaging 7.33 saves per game last season.
The weather Thursday will be clear and sunny, reflective of the teams’ outlooks on this friendly scrimmage to start off the new year. The game should be a great practice match for Cal to begin turning around some of these negative statistics from last season before the regular season begins.