The sunny beaches of San Diego can offer plenty of relaxation for those visiting. It’s warm, the water can be excellent and laying in the sand can top off the perfect day. A perfect day was exactly what Cal women’s lacrosse was looking for when it visited San Diego State.
Sometimes, however, the waves can be unforgiving and the wind offensive. Put simply, the beach can be imperfect, just like the Bears’ 16-11 loss to the Aztecs.
Coming off of two road wins against Winthrop and Mercer, Cal couldn’t find its sunny beach at the Aztec Lacrosse Field. The Bears would lose on the road against San Diego State on Feb. 28, and fall to 2-3 on the season, but did manage another consistent offensive performance as they scored 11 goals for their third consecutive game.
The Bears didn’t struggle offensively in this match, rather it was an aggressive San Diego State team which was especially prolific in the first half. The Aztecs got their offense going early in a nine-goal first half, and the Bears would find themselves down four in the first nine minutes of the game.
“San Diego is a really fast-paced offense,” said Cal junior attacker Marisa Kuberra. “I think we struggled a bit through that at the beginning — which is why we started with such a deficit — and I think we had to dig ourselves out of a hole, but I think we did the best we could.”
Kuberra, who is from San Diego, finished with a season-high three goals in her return home. The Cal junior would be one of five Bears to score in the game, trailing only her teammate, sophomore attacker Quinnlyn Mason, in total goals scored against the Aztecs.
“I definitely felt confident and little pressure to create opportunities for the rest of my teammates and also capitalize on the opportunities I was given,” Kuberra said.
Kuberra and Mason’s efforts, however, weren’t enough to hold off the early Aztec barrage. Starting off the match on a 3-0 scoring run, San Diego State would later advance that lead to 5-1 after a Cal goal from sophomore attacker Megan Mix. The blue and gold would inevitably get their offense moving in the first half — with goals from junior attacker Nikki Zaccaro and Kuberra — but the Aztec offense kept rolling.
Before the first horn, the Bears found themselves down 9-6 and would trail by at least three goals for the rest of the game. Although Cal had a better showing defensively in the second half, San Diego State’s intense offense had the upper hand, outscoring the blue and gold 7-5 in the second half. The Bears would lose 16-11 as 10 different Aztecs made the score sheet as opposed to Cal’s five.
This game was particularly important for Kuberra. Being from San Diego, Kuberra was happy to be home, but also determined and focused to perform.
“Coming back home and playing collegiately, I’ve dreamt about (it) since high school, so it’s not something I take lightly. I felt the pressure, but I like to think of that pressure as a privilege,” Kuberra said.
Kuberra and the offense carried their consistency into her homecoming, but the team still needs to improve on the defensive end. In the three games Cal has lost this season, it has given up 20 or more shots on goal. Kuberra and the rest of her teammates are already looking ahead and understand what the Bears game plan has to build around.
“Definitely shutting down their primary threats on offense,” Kuberra said. “Getting it to their third or fourth option. We also have to dominate the draw circle and just finish those opportunities on offense.”
The Bears and Kuberra are still searching for that perfect day, and now have their eyes set on their Friday match against Arizona State, where the metaphorical waves may be more accepting, and the sand a little softer. The Bears haven’t found their beach yet, but spring is long and they have opportunities ahead of them.
Lucas Perkins-Brown covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected].