The Cal women’s lacrosse squad had a few bumps on and off the road in its 2020 campaign, but nothing could have prepared the members for the abrupt end to their season. On account of the ongoing battle with the coronavirus, all NCAA spring competitions were effectively canceled March 12.
The ongoing pandemic threat has forced the Bears to sign promising players in the offseason, temporarily “seal” the team behind antibacterial doors and hold onto some hope that they can deliver more next spring.
Some bumps in the blue and gold’s shortened season include finishing with a 2-5 overall record, but starting conference play 0-2. The Bears scored 70 goals in seven games on 37% shooting, while additionally giving up 92 goals to oppositions with 39.1% shooting. Cal has room to improve on its offense, turning the ball over 99 times while its opponents only let the ball go 82 times.
Head coach Brooke Eubanks is taking these uncertain times to focus on the positives and reflect on how the team can do better next season, while simultaneously keeping her roster locked in.
“Obviously, it’s been a pretty big adjustment. A lot of things were taken away really quickly, but honestly, I’ve been trying really hard to focus on the controllables,” Eubanks said. “I’ve never been able to have this much home time, so between taking advantage of that and getting creative with ways to stay connected with the team, I’m just trying to stay in the positive frame of it all.”
Staying optimistic means the blue and gold stay connected off the field through Facebook groups and Zoom conferences, as well as continuing to be vigilant for new roster additions. Eubanks announced April 17 that the Bears added their eighth signee, goalie Lily Rathbun, to a hungry roster intent on a breakout season.
Even though the Bears had a few bumps in the road in 2020, positive aspects of their season leave high expectations for next year.
Cal had a blistering shot-on-goal percentage of 73.5 and played six of its seven contests on the road, winning two road games. The Bears will also receive some extra assistance and guidance during next year’s spring spell, thanks to senior defender Ella Annest.
“I’ve actually decided to come back next year, which I’m really excited about,” Annest said. “It’s a very personal decision, but I think one thing I can speak to for all of my fellow seniors is that we’ve all had a very good support system, and it’s made a really difficult situation at least a little bit more manageable.”
Annest played in all seven games this season for the Bears, starting in six of them. There’s no doubt her experience will be useful to the eight signees the Bears plan to bring on. Annest is also staying positive and added that even though she can’t see her teammates, she can still count on their support through tough times like these.
“One thing the team has done that reflects on the closeness that we have when we’re not in quarantine is just checking in on each other,” Annest said. “We’re all really lucky that we’re not just teammates, but also friends, and I think everyone’s done a very good job at staying close to each other.”
The season is over for Cal, and although Annest is making a return next year, there are still uncertainties in the futures of the remaining senior crew.
As for Eubanks, remaining positive and staying attentive is pairing well with a side of “home sweet home,” as she welcomes the recruiting class of 2020.
The Bears plan to weather the storm of COVID-19 with optimism and reassurance like most other athletes and teams barred inside during the statewide shelter in place. Will all of the seniors make a comeback next year? How will five different classes mesh together next season? Will senior captain Susie Ropp finally fill us in on her peanut butter toast pregame ritual?
So many questions left to be answered. Plenty of time to speculate, as the Bears play the “to be continued” card.
Lucas Perkins-Brown covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected].