The Cal lacrosse team (3-10) will host UC Davis (6-7) on Friday in a matchup of UC teams at the bottom half of their conference table. The teams have met a total of 31 times, and the Bears edge out the Aggies 17-14 for most wins. UC Davis, however, has taken the last three games against Cal, and Friday’s match will be an opportunity for the Bears to even the score.
In last season’s close matchup, the Aggies prevailed over the Bears, 7-5. Then-sophomore Meredith Haggerty and then-junior Elizabeth Pellechi each tallied two goals, while then-junior Jena Fritts notched one. Then-freshman goalie Jenny Wilkens made nine saves. Despite these positive numbers, turnovers were a big issue for Cal as it had 17 to UC Davis’ nine.
“(Davis and Cal) are similar, so we have been just getting our mentality ready for a close game,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “They’re very feisty, aggressive and have a lot of heart so really just kind of focusing on those types of things.”
The Bears are preparing for a high-stakes game against the Aggies, with tournament qualification likely on the line. UC Davis sits fifth in the conference while Cal has dragged itself up to seventh, but only the top-six teams qualify for the tournament. A win against the Aggies would be huge for the Bears’ chances as they continue their run toward qualifying for the MPSF tournament.
“You can’t really hide from (pressure) situations,” Eubanks said. “We talk about it, and we say it’s a privilege to have pressure because those are the types of games you want to play in, and you should enjoy every moment.”
Putting aside the standard emphasis placed on conference games, UC Davis and Cal have a rivalry of their own. As UC schools that are only an hour drive apart, they are each other’s closest ally and biggest opponent. To further the competition, a pair of sisters are split between the two schools. Junior Chloe Landry plays for Cal, while her sister Elizabeth Landry played at UC Davis, before graduating in 2015.
“I love rivalries, I think it’s fun to have an opponent that you know,” Eubanks said. “We are pretty familiar with them, from an on-field perspective but also off the field as well. It adds just another layer of excitement and energy, and I think there should be a pretty good crowd as well.”
As Cal nears the end of its season, the pressure to perform rises. The Bears will face three teams sitted above them in the conference and one right below them. Cal’s ideal outcome would be to go undefeated for the remainder of the season. The statistics, however, don’t back up this path being likely. By the end of next week, Cal’s future will be set in stone, and only time will tell if it goes in its favor.