Update 3/12/2020: Cal Athletics announced that all competitions, including Lacrosse, will be suspended until further notice.
The Cal women’s lacrosse team has been couch surfing the last few weekends, playing six of its first seven on the road. But the blue and gold will return home to set the table for their first conference home game, where they will seek to serve losses to conference adversaries No. 25 Colorado and Oregon at Memorial Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m.
The Bears will seek to defend their own house after a tough road trip in which the Bears lost against both Arizona State and No. 7 USC.
Traveling to Cal first this weekend is a Colorado team ranked No. 25 in the nation while also sitting second in the Pac-12 standings. The Buffaloes are 1-0 in conference play, recently defeating fellow Pac-12 opponent Oregon in a 21-5 rout. Colorado, however, is 0-2 on the road, which could foreshadow promise for Cal.
The Buffs also have a poor turnover average of 11.8 per game. That being said, Colorado averages more shots per game and has recorded more assists and forced more turnovers than the Bears have in two fewer games. Cal will undoubtedly be on its toes Friday at Memorial and will play to keep Colorado’s road record at zero.
Sunday, however, may be a completely different story.
The blue and gold will likely put their feet on the gas against the Oregon Ducks at home. Much like the Bears, the Ducks hold a 2-5 record on the season and have started out conference play 0-1. The Ducks’ defense has been more or less abysmal this season, giving up an average of 16.4 goals a competition in just seven games. Cal currently lets in 13.1 goals a match.
Unlike the blue and gold, yet similar to Colorado, the Ducks have yet to win a road game. Their only two wins at home are against unranked opponents Liberty and Fresno State, both of which ended 20-12 in favor of Oregon.
For Cal, there’s hope that a win is attainable in both competitions. Oregon has yet to win a road game, while the Bears have lost their only home game — and both teams will hope to reverse their fortune at this homestand. The blue and gold possess a higher shot on goal percentage than the Ducks, and Cal currently has 33 fewer turnovers than Oregon does through the same amount of games.
Before they can get their paws on Oregon, the Bears will have to play through a formidable Colorado squad looking to steal its first road win. If the Buffs beat Cal on Friday, they will secure a three-game win streak. In the last two games, the Buffaloes have beaten their last two challengers by a whopping average of 13.5 goals.
Sophomore attacker Megan Mix, who currently has 10 goals on the season, is leading the Bears back home. Mix and the blue and gold are prepared to be back in Bear territory, but admit the road trip lifestyle wasn’t all bad.
“I’m happy to be home, we’ve only had one home game,” Mix said. “Being on the road for a while was a good thing for our team, and brought us closer together toward the beginning of the season.”
Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks echoed this statement in a different way, highlighting the positives and negatives the road brings to a team’s fatigue.
“It definitely brings stress to the body and mind,” Eubanks said. “It’s also something you have to embrace and use to your advantage. It’s good for our program’s experience, those back-to-back road games, so when those opportunities come, we’re prepared for it.”
The blue and gold are in no rush to be on the road again, but are vying for their first home win. The Bears will welcome the Ducks and Buffaloes into their home for the weekend, but whether they will welcome both teams with open arms is a different question.
Lucas Perkins-Brown covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected].