Cal lacrosse hopes to bounce back against Fresno State, San Diego State

Three woman holding lacrosse sticks as they are running through a lacrosse field.
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Cal lacrosse will be on the road to Las Vegas this weekend where they will take on Fresno State on Friday, followed by San Diego State on Sunday. The Bears started their season last weekend, falling to both Michigan and Denver.

On Feb. 15 at 4 p.m., Cal will face Fresno State, who started its season by beating Massachusetts Lowell, 14-12. The Bulldogs’ 14 goals against the River Hawks match the Bears’ season total for goals, as Cal netted 10 against Michigan and only four against Denver.

The Bears will be hoping to turn around their scoring troubles from last weekend with a fresh start against two more nonconference opponents. The team has a few improvements to make going into this weekend’s matches.

“We need to have more discipline with the ball,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “We need to be able to get the ball on the offensive end. We need to be able to handle their pressure. We need to be able to move the ball.”

Keeping possession of the ball and getting out on the offensive end should be where the players aim to improve as a unit during practice this week, hopefully resulting in a higher-scoring offense.

Cal’s defense will be tasked with the goal of stopping standout freshman Sydney Skalstad on Friday. In her collegiate debut with the Bulldogs, she was able to put in four goals on the way to Fresno State’s victory. The Bears will hope to slow down the Bulldogs’ high-scoring offense and get back on track for Sunday’s game against San Diego State.

This weekend will be the first time the Bears play away from home this season, but luckily, the team will be eased into future road games, as these matches are hosted at a neutral site, meaning neither team will have a true advantage.

After Cal’s Friday match against Fresno State, it will face its second California team of the weekend, San Diego State, on Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. The Aztecs are yet to play an official game; however, they will take on Oregon on Friday and have played an exhibition match against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in which they won, 20-6.

With two more explosive offenses on the horizon, the Bears will need to have a fundamentally sound defensive week of practice to prepare for the Bulldogs and the Aztecs. This will be the first time on the road for all three of these teams this weekend.

Junior Susie Ropp, as well as senior Caroline Corzel and redshirt junior Eliza Christman, will look to continue their strong personal starts offensively this weekend. Corzel has put in four goals by herself, and Ropp and Christman each have three goals and one assist thus far.

Senior Kendall Swenson will also attempt to continue her strong start defensively, as she recorded a team-high four caused turnovers in the first two matches, in addition to four ground balls. Overall, the defensive unit will have a lot on its hands with its subpar performance in Cal’s first two matches, and it won’t get any easier against the powerful offenses on the schedule for this weekend.

Cal’s weekend in Vegas will be important for the team that is hoping to trend in the right direction before conference play. If Cal can win both matches on the weekend, it will return to .500 before heading home again.

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