As the Bears hit the road for a two-game weekend, they will bring as many positive notes as they can from their first seven games. They will face the Oregon Ducks (3-2) Friday and the Colorado Buffaloes (1-4) Sunday.
Despite being plus two in goal differential, Cal sits at just 2-5. The positive goal differential can be explained by a huge 17-1 win against Howard and a series of competitive losses, including Sunday’s 10-11 defeat versus American.
Still, there are many positive notes the Bears can draw from their consistently competitive play.
Against American, the Bears caused a season-high 15 turnovers in an impressive defensive display. Freshman Annette Ciupek’s had a breakout performance in the same game, with five ground balls and five caused turnovers in her first career start.
Individually, Maya Lawliss’ 15 goals places her at fourth in the Pac-12. She was the Cal player to be named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Feb. 14 after scoring eight goals against Lindenwood and Central Michigan. Meanwhile, Kennedy Goss has amassed 143 career draw controls, leaving only three Bears in Cal lacrosse history ahead of her in all-time draw controls.
“Obviously the record isn’t what we want it to be,” said head coach Jennifer Wong. “But they show up every day ready to go, and we are closing the gap. We’re getting better and our offenses and defenses look better every single game.”
As Cal prepares for Oregon and Colorado, it will have to pick apart certain players and schemes if it seeks to notch a couple victories.
Oregon (3-2), is almost two weeks removed from a strong 16-10 win against George Mason on March 5 and Colorado (1-4) is only one week removed from a stunning 14-10 victory against Ohio State on March 12.
While the teams find themselves on opposite ends of the Pac-12 goals-per-game rankings, each of them have prolific individual scorers leading the way.
“Both teams have leading scorers that shoot a lot of balls,” Wong said. “We know exactly who we need to prep for. We will put together a game plan that will hopefully limit them and prevent them from having huge days against us.”
Oregon’s leading scorer is junior midfielder Morgan McCarthy with 16 goals on 30 shots, posting a 53.3 shooting percentage and a stellar five-goal game against Niagara. McCarthy was second team all Pac-12 in 2022.
Colorado’s leading scorer is fifth-year attacker Charlie Rudy who has 18 goals on 46 shots. She is second in the Pac-12 for goals scored and also had a five-goal performance in her last game against the Buckeyes. Rudy was also a member of the 2022 all Pac-12 second team.
Nonetheless, Cal will look to bring some of its own star power into these matchups.
“While we do have some veteran players who’ve had very successful careers here, I think on any given day we’ve shown that any one of our players could show up and have a big statistical day,” said Wong. “But we definitely need our top players to come through with consistent efforts.”
The Bears will look to rely on a game plan, veteran performances and positive nonconference game notes as they head to Oregon and Colorado.