The Pac-12 has not been kind to Cal. While the conference went 9-1 at the March Madness tournament and its lacrosse teams went 2-0 against nonconference foes, the conference showed its dominance — this time at the Bears’ expense.
After Pac-12 losses to USC and Arizona State last week, Cal could not get the job done against Oregon and Colorado either to begin a three-game road trip. The Bears lost their last two games to Oregon and Colorado 9-14 and 5-15, respectively. Those two losses mean that the team is now 0-4 in conference play.
Penalties ruled the weekend for Cal, as the team racked up six yellow cards — three apiece — through both games. Against the Ducks, all three penalties against the Bears resulted in man-up goals for Oregon.
A key turning point in last Saturday’s game against Oregon came about halfway through the first half. Cal was able to keep the game close early on thanks to attacker Nikki Zaccaro’s goal, which was assisted by attacker Quinnlyn Mason. Zaccaro’s goal knotted the game up at 3. Unfortunately for the Bears, Mason’s yellow card with 13:09 left in the first half spurred a 3-0 run by the Ducks which was kickstarted by a man-up goal by Oregon’s Shonly Wallace. The Ducks were then afforded a three-point cushion right before the half when Cal’s Megan Mix’s yellow card with less than two minutes left in the half led to another man-up goal. The Bears trailed for the rest of the game, as the Ducks ultimately ran away with the game and defeated Cal 14-9.
Yellow cards again doomed the Bears in a televised game against the Buffaloes. Mix got on the board with 19:38 left in the first half to put Cal up 2-1, but just as in other games earlier in the season, the Bears were unable to keep the lead. Her yellow card just three minutes later was the catalyst for a man-up goal by Colorado’s Zoe Lawless that tied the game at 2. Cal trailed for the rest of the game en route to its seventh consecutive loss against Colorado. At one point, the Bears surrendered eight straight goals, five of which were scored by Buffaloes’ attacker Charlie Rudy.
Big games have posed a problem for Cal, as they are now 0-2 in games televised by the Pac-12 Networks, its margin of defeat being 10 goals in each loss. Despite the results, head coach Brooke Eubanks spoke highly of the opportunity to get more exposure.
“Any time the Pac-12 supports our games on TV is huge for any of the games, or any of the teams in the conference,” Eubanks said. “We want to develop not only the collegiate west coast lacrosse but also the youth in high schools and get some of the best athletes in our state exposed to the game and playing it.”
Next week’s games for the Bears won’t be televised by the Pac-12. Cal will visit No.18 Stanford on Friday before hosting Fresno State on Sunday. The Bears will attempt to snap their losing streak, just as they tried to do against Colorado, only this time it will be a taller task, as Cal has lost a whopping 27 straight games against the Cardinal. The Bears will finish off the weekend by attempting to complete a season sweep of the Bulldogs after coming away with a 14-12 victory in their first matchup on March 5.
Ali Fazal covers lacrosse. Contact him at afazaldailycal.org.