Bears look for 3 straight against Aztecs

Vanessa Lim/Staff

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“Teamwork makes the dreamwork.” A popular, albeit overused mantra. The Cal women’s lacrosse team has invited this idea into the workplace for its 2020 season.

After securing their first two wins of the season against opponents Mercer and Winthrop, the blue and gold are looking to make it three in a row on the road. The Bears will face San Diego State on the Aztec lacrosse field with a record on the line.

For senior goalie Makayla Ward, the goal Friday isn’t to make history, but to stay focused and do the little things correctly.

“Just go hard and play our game. … We just need to focus on ourselves to do the little things correctly, go hard, focus on the details and play together,” Ward said.

The Aztecs are coming off a 14-6 loss against in-state rival USC and average a little more than 15 goals given up per game against their first three opponents. What’s more, the Aztecs are currently allowing opposing teams to shoot 42.7%, a flaw the Bears will surely go after Friday.

These discrepancies aren’t giving the Bears big heads, however. Ward believes the Aztecs are better than what the stat sheet might appear to describe.

“SDSU is really physical. They have a lot of really good shooters and it’s going to be a high-intensity game,” Ward said.

The Bears are staying humble after their two-win road trip, while also staying loose, organized and prepared for their upcoming matchup with the Aztecs. The Bears have been riddled with early road games, but senior attacker and captain Susie Ropp has a few tricks that keep her ready to play on road trips.

“Coming off the airplane flying to the East Coast is a little difficult,” Ropp said. “I try to visualize myself on the field before I go onto the field … and get adjusted to the weather that’s going on and the lifestyle that they have there.”

Ropp currently boasts an impressive 73.7 shot-on-goal percentage and stands at seven goals on the season trailing sophomore attacker and teammate Quinnlyn Mason.

Ropp’s shot percentage should be especially potent for the Bears as they face an Aztec team that has given up 47 scores and 80 shots on goal in its first three games combined.

On average, the Bears also take significantly fewer shots per game at 24.8 to their opposition’s 31.3. Cal shoots negligibly better than its opponents, scoring on 35.4% of on-goal attempts compared to 34.4% from opposing squads.

With that, the blue and gold will hit the road again for the third straight game looking to continue their win streak. Ward will keep the Bears’ defense in check and Ropp will lead a Cal attack looking to keep their consistent scoring going, all while attempting to maintain uniformity and teamwork.

“The defense had our backs in the past two games, the attack has done a lot better job of having the defense’s back and maintaining that balance to capitalize on other teams’ weaknesses,” Ropp said.

For Ropp, Ward and company, teamwork makes the Bears work, and they’ll put this philosophy to the test Friday at 5 p.m. against the San Diego State Aztecs.

Lucas Jerome Perkins-Brown covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected].