Memories of Near Comeback Propel Lacrosse into MPLL Playoffs

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There is still a buzz in the air from the last regular-season game of the Cal women's lacrosse team.

After being down 7-0 against Stanford, the Bears put on an incredible show in the second half to fall just short of the Cardinal, narrowly losing 10-8.

It was a successful season, beginning to end. But now as with every sport come playoff time, the regular season doesn't matter.

Cal's 5-3 Mountain Pacific Lacrosse League record gets thrown out. But what will carry over is the confidence the Bears gained from their stunning second half comeback against the Cardinal.

"I think we have proven to ourselves that we can beat Stanford," said Cal's leading scorer, sophomore Emily Edwards. "There is no question in our mind that we can put them away."

Cal could meet the Cardinal for a third time this season Sunday. The Bears host this weekend's inagural MPLL Championships, which begin tomorrow at 11 a.m. when No. 2 Cal faces No. 3 University of Denver at Memorial Stadium.

"We haven't seen them in a month," Edwards said. "We know how much we've changed since then and I'm sure they have changed a lot too. We want to go into each of these games playing Cal women's lacrosse the way we know we can play and everyone is confident that we can do that."

Top-seeded Stanford faces No. 4 St. Mary's in the second semifinal following the Bears' game tomorrow at 2 p.m.

The championship game will take place Sunday at 2 p.m., also at Memorial Stadium.

At 5-9 overall, the Pioneers are decided underdogs against Cal. The Bears know when the playoffs roll around, underestimating an opponent is sure to bring quick elimination and a long summer of wondering what happened.

"We can't take Denver lightly on Saturday," Edwards said. "Our attitude has to be so much more focused (than in the regular season). If we lose on Saturday, we're done."

The Pioneers traveled to California in early March and came away with wins over Cal and UC Davis before losing to the Bears and Aggies in Denver the following weekend. Denver hosted St. Mary's April 7 and sent the Gaels packing with a 17-8 decision for the Pioneers' third conference win of the season.

The Pioneers are led by sophomore attacker Patience Baldwin who paces the team with 30 goals and five assists. Most recently, Baldwin recorded a six-goal performance in their 15-10 win over Colorado College April 26.

The Bears are not just gearing up for the playoffs to defeat the Cardinal. Their additional motivation will come from the desire to send off their three seniors with memories of winning the first division title in MPLL history.

The seniors, Halsey Monger, Sarah Wheatley and Laura Kado have all made their impressions felt at Cal over the last four years.

"All three of them have been so key to our team," Edwards said. "Our team is really going to miss them. They have been such great example to us on and off the field and we want to send them away with a league championship. They have been great leaders and have showed us what it means to be student athletes."

These seniors' work is not done quite yet though. They have one more weekend in which they will be asked to provide the leadership for a Cal team looking to take its first league title.


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