Cal lacrosse aims to break 3-game losing streak against Stanford

Lacrosse player runs across the field with the ball.
Karen Chow /File

The Bears are on the road for the final game of the regular season, but this time, it will only be a short drive across the bay to Palo Alto, where Cal will hope to end its season with a win against the rival Cardinal. The game will take place Friday at 5 p.m.

Stanford currently sits at third in the Pac-12 with a 6-3 conference record, having lost to first-place USC twice and splitting the season series 1-1 with Colorado. Cal is close behind Colorado in fourth place, but the Bears’ 3-6 conference record is more reflective of the team’s play recently than their conference standing is.

Cal dropped what should have been an easy win over Oregon last Friday and then was dominated by Colorado just two days later. Stanford will be just one more bump in the road for the Bears before the Pac-12 Tournament begins April 25.

Stanford has had a very strong season in 2019, having only dropped four games, all of which were to ranked opponents. It’s very unlikely that Cal will be Stanford’s first loss to an unranked opponent, but this rivalry means everything to the Bears, and they will be sure to leave it all on the field Friday to try to spark the upset.

Redshirt junior Kirsten Swanson leads the Bears in scoring this season with 37 goals and 11 assists, making her a name to watch out for in Friday’s match. Sophomore Nikki Zaccaro is also having a breakout year, recording a team-high 20 assists so far this season.

Last time these two schools faced off, Cal had a very strong performance, beating the Cardinal in shots, turnovers and draw controls. Usually, if a team can win in two of these stats, they’ll win the contest, so Cal coming out on top in all three categories shows how impressive the team’s performance was despite the 13-11 loss. The game really just came down to Stanford doing a better job capitalizing on its opportunities.

It’s hard for Cal to look at the box score from its last meeting with Stanford and say what to improve on. The team should honestly be aiming to play the same way it did last time but hope that the shots find the back of the net this time around.

Sophomore Ali Baiocco is having a phenomenal season for the Cardinal, with 46 goals and 21 assists this season. Last time she faced off against the Bears, she was held to only two goals, which helped Cal keep the game close until the final whistle.

There would be no better feeling for Cal than to end the regular season with a victory over Stanford, bringing head coach Brooke Eubanks her seventh win of the season and continuing her streak of a one-game improvement each season since she became Cal’s head coach. The Bears have a lot to play for Friday and are sure to make it known.

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