Cal lacrosse kicks off season with disappointing home losses

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Cal lacrosse opened its season Friday at California Memorial Stadium against Michigan but unfortunately couldn’t secure the win, falling 15-10 to the opposing blue and yellow squad. The team then went on to face Denver on Sunday, leading to another negative result.

Cal’s first loss was a disappointing start to the 2019 season, as the team scored double-digit goals but couldn’t stop Michigan’s attack. With the graduation of several defenders from last season, the Bears’ defensive struggles early in the season are no surprise.

Bears junior Susie Ropp was a standout performer against the Wolverines, netting a team-high three goals. Even with her hat trick, Cal was unable to top Michigan, beginning the season 0-1.

Sophomore Marisa Kuberra had a dominant game, too, as she recorded two goals, one assist, four draw controls and five ground balls. The two young players’ performances against Michigan should have Cal fans everywhere optimistic for their success going forward with the team.

Michigan was able to put up more shots than the Bears, with a total advantage of 33-28. Statistically, the game was fairly even, and it just came down to Michigan being able to capitalize better on its opportunities.

Cal then took on Denver at home on Sunday, where the team fell 13-4 in a lopsided matchup. The Pioneers dominated in almost every statistical category and finished the game with 35 shots, nearly tripling the Bears’ 13.

Surprisingly, Cal dominated the draw controls 13-6 but couldn’t capitalize on most of these opportunities.

“If you would have shown me that stat, I would have said, ‘OK, this is going to be a great
game,’ ” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “Yes, it’s a huge bummer to only put 4 points on the board, but sometimes, the draw controls can be a harder thing to master, and the fact that we had that against a very good drawing team makes me pretty confident that we can fix the scoring.”

As for the Pioneers, they were aggressive on the field, earning seven free-position shots to Cal’s one. In addition, the Bears had 27 turnovers compared to Denver’s nine, showing the high intensity across the field from the visiting team.

Cal’s defensive performance against Denver is one the team will hope to learn from to prepare the team for the rest of the long season.

“The tough thing we need to get better at is our game against Michigan. They were running a man-to-man defense,” Eubanks said. “(Denver) was running a zone, and it is a completely different offensive mentality, but it’s something that we need to be able to fix in a day.”

Denver put in the first goal of the match in the first few minutes and never looked back, holding on to a lead for the remainder of the competition.

The Bears had no single scoring leader Sunday, but instead, seniors Caroline Corzel, Kirsten Swanson and Eliza Christman, as well as sophomore Ashley Ward, all netted one goal each. Ropp added to her strong Friday performance by recording the team’s only assist against Denver on Corzel’s late-game goal.

“On all sides of the field, we need to work better together,” Ropp said. Teamwork will be a focus for the Bears moving forward to produce a higher-scoring offense, keep more goals out of their own net and hopefully produce better results.
Cal will go on to play against Fresno State on Friday and then San Diego State on Sunday. Both games will be hosted at a neutral site in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Jack Whaley covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @_jackdouglas_.