The Bears’ lacrosse season was a difficult one; despite playing 11 more games this season, they only managed to match their win total from the previous year. While optimism for Cal’s prosperity on the field doesn’t lie in the cold hard stats, it does come from the tone set by its outgoing seniors.
“At the end of the season I feel a lot can be said about the senior class and what we did on the field but it’s a culture that we implemented that will be our true legacy,” senior LizaBanks Campagna said. “We understand what it means to be a part of a team, and there is quite literally nothing that we won’t do in order to play together and be on the field.”
Out of all the teams in the Pac-12, Cal was the only one that played all of its regularly scheduled games amid mass cancellations due to COVID-19. Head coach Brooke Eubanks attributed this to the sacrifices Cal was willing to make, as well as its love of the game.
“If you look back a year ago, we didn’t even know if we were going to be able to play and what it was going to look like,” Eubanks said. “I’m super proud of the team and the sacrifices they made so that we were able to stay safe, get all of our games in and compete and play the game that we love.”
The Bears have some exciting players that can carry on that culture. Sophomore Kelly McIntyre earned a hat trick in the season-ending Pac-12 quarterfinal loss against Arizona State. Most notably, she was able to get shots off against Arizona State’s safe zone coverage, and the smarts and vision she possessed to play an effective game are worthy of praise.
Up-and-comers such as Kacie Riggs, Olivia Dey and Amanda Morse will also propel the team to success in the future.
The draw battle is a crucial part of Cal’s game plan as it allows the offense more possessions, and Riggs corralled six draws against Arizona State, which suggests that she’ll be making significant contributions to the Bears’ offense next season. Dey and Morse will also add a punch to an offense that struggled last season; they were responsible for 10 goals in the blue and gold’s last six games. They will have to step up in engineering an offense without Nikki Zaccaro, who finished her Cal career as the program’s all-time leader in assists per game and had a career-high 18 goals in a season in her senior year.
Luckily for the Bears, their offseason will not be disrupted this year. With COVID-19 regulations on the verge of being lifted, the team relishes a chance to practice in a more efficient capacity.
“I think that this year was especially difficult for our whole team and we’re happy that we were able to overcome so many of the roles and challenges,” McIntyre said. “Being able to not have to go wrap around so many rules over the summer is great. We just have so much more time, abilities and resources now that we can start to get really excited for the next season and what we have in the future.”
For the seniors at Cal, parts of their legacy can be measured with accolades. While Campagna was awarded a spot on the All-Pac-12 First Team, Zaccaro joined in on the fun with a Second Team selection. Campagna also moved into sole possession of first place in program history for career draw controls, and senior Ella Annest set the program record for games played with 75. There is a component that is less tangible, however: The culture left by the class of 2021 builds the foundation for a bright future for the Bears, with younger players eager to show out.
Ali Fazal covers lacrosse. Contact him at afazaldailycal.org.