Not Unbeaten Any More, Cal Back on Road to Face St. Mary's





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The Cal women's lacrosse team made a conscious effort to get off to a fast start this year. Thus far, it has not disappointed.

The Bears go into Saturday's game against St. Mary's with a 4-1 record overall and 3-1 in their league. They avenged their only loss against Denver last weekend by beating the Pioneers in the rematch on Saturday, 12-9.

"We knew Denver was a beatable team, so the loss didn't get us down," sophomore midfielder Carly Preble said. "We got pumped up and came out hard."

Coach Jill Malko noted the Bears' increased intensity and execution on the road trip.

"We executed at a higher level and our shot percentage went up," Malko said. "We really wanted that win and we played a lot smarter and more aggressive."

The Bears were led over the weekend by sophomore Emily Edwards, who had seven goals in the two games. After suffering an early-season calf injury, Edwards is back in top form. Malko praised Edwards, but also outlined the importance of contributions from other players.

"She is having a great year," Malko said. "Anybody with a brain is going to say, 'we need to shut her down.' And that's when we need other players to step up."

The Bears showed that other players can and will step up as Laura Kado, Julianne Wu and Kelly Queisser each added two goals in the win against Denver.

While the scorers may get most of the recognition, the Bears' young defense has been impressively steady and focused.

"Our defense is really coming together," said Preble. "We're communicating really well on and off the field."

A major reason for the strong defense is the lone senior on unit, Sarah Wheatley, who continually covers and shuts down the opposition's top scorer. Wheatley has transformed since last year from a goal-scoring defender into the main stopper on the defense with solely defensive responsibilities.

"Sarah is a huge player for us," Malko said. "She's not scoring like last year because we need her for defense, but she has been a huge key."

Wheatley and the Bears will continue to play away from home when they head to St. Mary's on Wednesday at 1 p.m. in a rematch of a tough first game where the Bears narrowly squeaked out a victory.

"They are definitely a tough team," Wu said. "Our strategy is going to be to work it around the offense and score off the assist."

Malko echoed Wu's respect for the scrappy St. Mary's team.

"St. Mary's seems to hang around with us every game," Malko said. "We can't afford to keep having close games with them because it's going to come back and haunt us."

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