Cal Lacrosse stopped by Philadelphia (where yours truly reside) last weekend to play against Temple (pictures from the game is interspersed inside this post). I was able to talk with head coach Brooke Eubanks at a fundraiser event for the team. She agreed to answer a few questions via emails from me.
The Golden Bears (3-6, 1-1 in MPSF) have already matched their win total from an year ago and we're at about the half way point of the season. Bears will play their final two home matches of the year this weekend. Bears host Oregon at 5 pm PT today (free live video is available) before celebrating their Seniors on Sunday against Fresno State at 1 pm PT (free live video is available) .
Ruey Yen: We are about a little bit past the halfway point in the 2nd year of your regime as the head coach of Cal Lacrosse. The team has already matched the win total from last year with 7 more regular season matches to go. How would you assess how the team is growing and performing compares to your vision?
Coach Eubanks: I think we are right on track. As much as everyone wants overnight success it is not realistic. We have made a ton of progress this year and I am exciting to see what the future brings.
RY: The team made two trips East this season, one to the midwest (to face Marquette and Notre Dame), one to New York State (Cornell) and Philadelphia (Temple). How important are these trips for the team? About 2/3 of the team are not merely out-of-state but out of the Pacific timezone.
Coach Eubanks: It is really important to get out and play outside of our region. It is not only good exposure for the program, but we get to face top teams in the country. It is also great preparation for postseason play.
RY: You lost your top scorer from the past two seasons in Bella Huther, who left the program early on this year. Which players have stepped up in her absence to be the focal point of the offense?
Coach Eubanks: Our offense is balanced and many players have stepped up at different times. It is our goal to make it difficult for other teams to scout us and decide who they are going to focus their defensive efforts on.
RY: Defensively, true freshman Jenny Wilkens have already garnered two conference Defensive Player of the Week honor. How good is she as a freshman? How much better do you think she can be given more experience (and maybe eventually a better defensive line that allows less shots on goal)?
Coach Eubanks: Jenny is an anchor for our defense and has stepped up a lot for our team this year. The possibilities are endless for her and I am excited to be apart of her growth.
— Cal Lacrosse (@CalWLacrosse) March 22, 2016
RY: For most of the Olympic sports, the casual Cal fans care about merely two things. If the team is not winning the national titles, we hope we are beating Stanford. What is our chance to beat Stanford on April 11th (game is on Pac-12 Bay Area at 5 pm PT) down at The Farm?
Coach Eubanks: As always this is a big game for Cal against a very good Stanford team. We will have to be on point when we play them....but because of the rivalry it is not difficult to bring your best for those games.
RY: Lacrosse was one of the sports that was on the chopping block back in 2010. Do you know how the effort to raise enough money to fund the sports out of endowment is going?
Coach Eubanks: Our fundraising support is better than ever and we hope to build off of this success.
RY: Lastly, it is Senior Day this Sunday (and just two more home matches for fans to see the Bears in action in Berkeley from Memorial Stadium). What does this group of seniors mean to the rest of the relatively young squad?
Coach Eubanks: The group of seniors has a strong love for the game of lacrosse and an even bigger love for their teammates. They will be missed by many.
RY: Thank you for the answers. Good luck the rest of the year and GO BEARS!
The Golden Bears will celebrate their 5 seniors on Sunday. Check out the seniors' reflections upon their Cal career via CalBears.com. It's a fun read.