Cal falls to Stanford, aims to end losing streak in Pac-12 tournament

Karen Chow /File

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The Bears closed out the regular season with a loss to rival No. 20 Stanford, making it three straight losses for Cal. The team now sits at 6-11 at the end of the regular season, the same record the Bears had last year going into the Pac-12 tournament.

Unlike in the first matchup between the two sides, Stanford eased its way to victory over the Bears, defeating Cal 17-6 Friday night. This victory completed the season sweep for the Cardinal, leaving Cal winless this year against its biggest rival.

The Cardinal came out aggressively, asserting their dominance early on with a 10-1 run to begin the game. Redshirt junior Eliza Christman was able to score Cal’s only two goals of the first half, as the Bears went into halftime trailing 12-2. Christman went on to score three more goals in the second half of play, almost recording a double hat trick and making her responsible for all but one of Cal’s six goals.

Christman had a big night in more than just scoring though, as she set the school’s single-season record for draw controls with 77. Cal alumna Elizabeth Koehler had set the record just one season ago with 76.

Cal once again did a good job of containing standout Cardinal sophomore Ali Baiocco, holding her to only two goals on the evening. This was no problem for the Cardinal, as they had a whopping 11 different players find the back of the net against Cal.

The Bears led the Cardinal in the draw category and only recorded six fewer shots than Stanford on the evening. Once again, Cal’s inability to convert on its opportunities came back to hurt the team, as the Bears netted only six of 22 shots, whereas Stanford put in 17 of 28.

Cal will have the chance to keep its season alive against Arizona State on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in Eugene, Oregon. The neutral site in Oregon may not play into Cal’s favor, as the team went 0-2 in its neutral site games earlier this year in Las Vegas. The Bears, however, are 2-0 against the Sun Devils this year and will hope to remain undefeated against the conference rivals.

The first time the two teams faced off this season came down to the wire, as Cal clinched a 12-11 overtime victory. The two would play again just a week later, this time with the Bears easily handling the Sun Devils, taking a 17-8 victory at home.

ASU and Cal both sit at 6-11 this season, showing just how closely matched the two sides are going into the Pac-12 tournament. ASU was only able to record two conference victories, though, both coming against Oregon.

Cal hasn’t won a conference tournament game since 2010 in the MPSF quarterfinals. The Bears will be aiming to end the nine-year drought and should be optimistic about their chances to do so against ASU.

Another fun achievement Cal will be playing for is a fifth straight season with a record improvement. Since Brooke Eubanks became head coach at Cal, the team has increased its win total by one each year, and Cal has the chance to improve once again with a victory over ASU.

If the Bears should come out victorious, they will face first-seeded No. 19 USC on Friday in the semifinals. USC dominated Cal by double digits in each of the two meetings this year, but if one thing is certain about college sports, it’s that nothing is certain in college sports.

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