Bears hoping to separate from Pac

Photo: Junior Tara Arolla leads the Bears with 29 goals in 13 games this season. She also has eight assists.
Junior Tara Arolla leads the Bears with 29 goals in 13 games this season. She also has eight assists.

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This time last year, the Cal women's lacrosse team was preparing to play Oregon fresh off their third conference loss, desperately needing something to kick start league play in the right direction.

While the Bears' (8-5) most recent conference loss to Stanford is just their first in the MPSF - bringing them to a 2-1 conference record - they'll likely need an even greater sense of urgency to take on the Ducks today at 1 p.m.

Last year, every MPSF team was seeded in the tournament; this year only four will play, making every conference game key for middle-of-the-pack teams such as Cal and Oregon.

That urgency against the Ducks will be especially useful given the match-up's typical dynamic.

"(It's) always a really gritty game," goalkeeper Allie Shropshire said. The teams racked up a total seven yellow cards against one another last year.

"Every year, it's definitely a battle to the very end, so it will be really exciting to play them, especially in such an emotional game for us," she added.

The game is senior day for the Bears; Shropshire and fellow seniors Chapin Jackson and Emily Abbood will be playing their final game on Cal's home turf.

Oregon (4-6, 1-0) has only played one conference match so far this season - a win over lowly Fresno State - which makes knowledge of their past games with Cal all the more important to understanding how they will fare at Witter Rugby Field.

Still, the Ducks have proved themselves competitive against non-conference opponents, losing by just one goal against No. 10 Albany, and falling 12-10 to No. 19 Dartmouth.

"They've had a lot of close losses, but to some very good teams," Cal coach Theresa Sherry said. "They're definitely battle-tested, and I think they have a very solid and athletic team."

Two Oregon strengths are sisters Jana and Jess Drummond, who have scored 25 and 18 goals respectively this season. Jana is fourth for average goals per game in the conference.

"They're just a great physical presence," Sherry said. "They're strong, they have good speed, and they just go very hard, not unlike the entire Oregon team, so we have to make sure our intensity matches or exceeds theirs."

Last year, the Bears held the sisters to just one assist, but still faced offensive threats from the rest of the team, such as Bina Barrett and Alex Breiner, who have scored 19 and 20 goals respectively this season.

Given Oregon's defensive record-their two keepers lead the conference for the lowest goals against averages but not the highest for saves per game - Cal may need to focus less on keeping the Ducks' shots out of the net than on getting its in.

The Bears will play at Fresno State Sunday at 1:30 p.m.


Contact Alex Matthews at [email protected]

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