Cal lacrosse battles until the end in tough loss to rival Stanford

Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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Cal lacrosse hosted rival No. 18 Stanford on Saturday at Memorial Stadium with high hopes of securing their first victory against a ranked opponent in over 10 years. The Bears were unable to accomplish their high goals, losing 13-11 to the Cardinals and now sit at 4-6 on the season with a 1-2 start to conference play.

Cal was lead by sophomore Marisa Kuberra’s hat trick, but more impressively, they had six different goal scorers in the evening.

“To have multiple threats, multiple people stepping up to finish, I think that just (makes) for a healthy offense,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “It’s the offense that I love being a part of that it’s anyone’s day. It’s anyone’s shot.”

The Bears were able to get on the board first in the competition, as sophomore Nikki Zaccaro scored less than two minutes into the match. Stanford would answer back, followed by another Bears goal giving Cal a 2-1 advantage — however, this would be the last lead Cal held for the rest of the game.

Stanford standout sophomore Ali Baiocco was averaging 4.86 points per game coming into the matchup, but Cal was able to limit her production, surrendering only two goals to Baiocco. The Cardinal’s junior Daniella McMahon led the way for Stanford with four goals and one assist, the highest scorer for either team in the game.

Despite the loss, the Bears played one of their best games so far this season. Cal led Stanford in shots, draw controls and turnovers Saturday, which is usually a recipe for success.

“(Our performance) was awesome. I really do think today is the first game we’ve had all season where we did put 60 minutes together, where we didn’t have that, maybe, five to ten-minute mark where it kind of crumbled and then we were able to recover from it,” said Eubanks of the team’s consistency. “We just need to bring it to the next level and finish on more of our shots.”

Converting shots is the only area the Bears dramatically suffered in, only able to find the back of the net on 11 of their 33 shots. The Bears also didn’t have nearly as many free-position shots as their opponents, with only three given compared to the Cardinals’ nine.

The game truly did come down to the wire, with Cal gaining tons of momentum toward the end of the game and almost securing a comeback. Down by three goals with six minutes left, Zaccaro netted a goal assisted by redshirt junior Kirsten Swanson, followed by huge roars of excitement from the crowd and the Bears sideline.

Less than a minute later, Kuberra scored to cut Stanford’s lead to only one point. The Bears had gained confidence in their comeback ability, causing Stanford to call a timeout to regroup. The timeout was followed by over four minutes of scoreless action until Stanford sophomore Katherine Gjertsen scored the final goal of the game, securing the victory for the Cardinal.

Although the Bears weren’t able to take home a victory against their rivals, the team should be happy with its performance and will aim to have similar games in the future, ideally ending in important conference victories. Cal had its best performance of the season despite the loss, hanging on until the final whistle against a ranked opponent.

The Bears next opportunity to secure a victory and bounce back in Pac-12 play will be Saturday, March 23 against USC.

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