Bears Opens Road Trip in Farmville

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Witter Field stood unusually quiet for a few hours on Wednesday. No whistles blew, no players yelled, no lacrosse sticks collided.

Instead, the Cal lacrosse team was enjoying an extra day of rest. That is, if a full day of airport security, layovers and cross-country flights can be considered restful. The Bears spent the day on their way to the East Coast for their first road trip of the season.

The initial stop for Cal is Farmville, Va., where the Bears (2-1, 2-0 in MPSF) will face Longwood University at 1 p.m. today at the Athletics Complex. Cal will be the first opponent of the season for the reigning National Lacrosse Conference champions.

On Sunday, the Bears will travel to North Carolina to take on Davidson (0-3) in Richardson Stadium at 9 a.m. Cal beat the Wildcats, 14-9, last year for its first win of the season.

The Bears hope to take advantage of the trip away from home to strengthen team unity and chemistry, especially on the field.

Cal has been focusing on better offensive synchronization, something coach Theresa Sherry feels her squad has struggled with over the past three games.

"These past two days we've been working really hard on not getting in each other's way," she said. "I think we sometimes beat ourselves by taking away opportunities. We really need to work on connecting."

Better flow may improve the Bears' offensive proficiency. While the offense has had no trouble getting shots, it has struggled to finish. The team has scored 35 goals but required 87 shot attempts to do so, for a lackluster shooting percentage of .402.

Last Saturday, Cal struggled against St. Mary's large goalkeeper and only managed to score two goals in the first half. Today the Bears will be challenged to get shots past another tall goalie, Longwood's 5-foot-11 senior Juli Liebig.

The Lancers are led on offense by senior midfielder Kesley Dean who finished last season with 46 points.

"We just need to be confident," said junior attacker Tara Arolla, who is tied for the team-high with seven goals. "We have a bunch of athletes on this team. We just need to stop unforced errors and play."

Cal has turned the ball over 59 times on the season, with only 20 of these mistakes being forced. Fine-tuning these mistakes might take precedence over winning the road trip.

The Bears, who have an early undefeated MPSF record, need to be on the top of their game for their next conference foe Stanford on April 1. These nonconference games are a chance to prepare.

"It will actually to be nice to get away from the distractions on campus and be able to focus on our team," Sherry said. "This group has been unfazed by anything thrown in their direction this year and they're a resilient group."

This weekend she'll find out how resilient they are against jet lag.


Jennifer Hansen covers lacrosse. Contact her at [email protected]

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