The best way to get someone’s attention is to break the normal pattern, by responding to the regular with something unexpected. Cal lacrosse has consistently increased its win total by one victory each of the last five years, but it has plans to eventually break that trend, with the ultimate goal of winning a Pac-12 championship.
Cal lacrosse head coach Brooke Eubanks announced three new first team captains last month in senior defender Ella Annest, senior attacker Susie Ropp and junior defender Marina Smith. In November, Eubanks also publicized the addition of six high school seniors to the lacrosse team in 2020-21.
This Bears squad returned to practice only four weeks ago, giving it a limited amount of time to get things in order before the start of the season. The new team captains do not seem phased by the time crunch, however, encouraged by the challenge and anticipating high achievements in the upcoming weeks.
Cal will get its first chance of redemption Friday after a rough 2019 that ended on a 7-12 record. The Bears lost four straight to open last season, but were able to work together to produce a more balanced record and make up for some of the losses.
The last few seasons have not been the most fortunate for the Bears, but their steady improvement each season could mean bigger and better results are coming. In 2018, Cal ended with a 6-12 record and went just 2-8 in conference play. Its lack of contact with the back of the net left it at No. 72 in the NCAA ranks. The blue and gold scored an average of 9.79 points per game and their defense struggled with a standard 6.33 forced turnovers per game.
This last season, Cal made great improvements, averaging 10.32 goals per game. It went 7-12 on the season and advanced to No. 51 in the NCAA Division I rankings.
With high hopes and a progressive trend over the last couple years, there is potential for massive improvement this season. The Bears’ first match will keep them close to home as they travel to UC Davis on Feb. 14, where they will have the chance to set the pace for the remainder of the season.
For the last three years, the Bears have held their ground against UC Davis, winning 16-13 in their faceoff last season. Based on their recent consistency and enthusiasm for the season, it does not seem that this is a trend they will break.
UC Davis ended last season ranked right above Cal at No. 50 and finished 9-8 overall. The Aggies are already off to a slow start, however, after a 16-12 loss against Arizona State on Feb. 8.
The Bears will also have a chance to play in their very own California Memorial Stadium on Feb. 15 against the University of Virginia. Virginia holds a 1-0 record this season and will be a challenging opponent to encounter at the beginning of the season.
Cal will open its 2020 season on Valentine’s Day at Health Stadium against UC Davis. The game will start at 7 p.m. From there, the Bears will play their first of eight home games at California Memorial Stadium against the Cavaliers on Feb. 16 at 11 a.m.
Mara Redican covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected].