No. 2 Northwestern Presents Biblically Sized Challenge

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Sometimes all a team needs is a little underdog magic.

The Miracle on Ice. The New York Giants Super Bowl win over the undefeated Patriots. David versus Goliath. Everyone loves an upset.

The Cal lacrosse team is hoping to for its own chance to play Cinderella as they face off against No. 2 Northwestern today at 1 p.m. at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill.

It may take a lot more than glass slippers to help the Bears to a fairytale ending.

The Wildcats (5-0) have already defeated four teams ranked in the top 15, including a 14-11 victory over No. 10 Notre Dame. Cal (3-2, 2-0 in the MPSF) lost to the Fighting Irish, 20-6, in their season opener on Witter Field.

Northwestern won a record five straight NCAA championships before losing in the title match last season. Over the course of these seasons, the powerhouse has won 131 of 136 games.

Despite this impressive resume, the Bears believe that Northwestern is beatable.

"If we play a game to the fullest, to the best of our ability, I think we can win every game on our schedule," said senior midfielder Emily Abbood. "We have to focus on staying healthy, staying strong, and preparing mentally."

Cal has not played a game since Feb. 27, a 14-10 victory over Davidson. Whether or not the offensive improvement the team made in that match carries over into today's game will largely determine the outcome. The Bears' shooting percentage on the season is a mediocre .390. Against Davidson, the team increased their proficiency to .483.

Co-captain Tara Arolla, who sparked the Bears to the victory with seven points and has a team-high 13 goals, believes the time off will help the team. A "pretty tough week of training" has allowed the squad to "buckle down" in preparation for today's game.

This preparation and optimism will be necessary if the unranked Cal squad wishes to bring down the mighty Wildcats. The Bears, sans a fairy godmother, have lost all seven of their prior matchups with the longtime champions, including last season's 17-3 drubbing on Cal's home field.

With all the chips seemingly stacked against them in today's match, the Bears aren't daunted by the task of facing the nation's second-best team.

"We always play top-10 teams," junior midfielder Arolla said. "It's not scary when you know what you're up against. We really think we have a chance to beat them."

As sports have shown us time and time again, every underdog has the chance to become the next Cinderella story.

Unfortunately for Cal, this isn't a Disney movie.


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

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