Well we knew it would be an exciting game and, true to billing, we managed to come back from a five-goal deficit to send the game into OT with just five seconds left in regulation. For every one of our players, it was the first time they had been in an overtime situation at Cal. Exciting indeed! Unfortunately, SDSU was able to get on the board first and hold the lead through overtime for the win. Despite the loss there is ALWAYS a silver lining and on Friday we didn’t have to look very far. There is much we can learn about ourselves and the game in this loss. Some things we learned:
Lesson 1- Making it count. You don’t beat teams because you’re supposed to (and who determines that anyways!?). With the parity in this conference, we just learned not to take a single game, loose ball or possession for granted. Everything counts and everything must be earned.
Lesson 2- Momentum killers. We didn’t have enough momentum killers on Friday. San Diego State was able to score six straight to close out the first half. We had our chances to turn the tide in that half, but we let scoring opportunities slip away and with each slippage we added to SDSU’s momentum. Sometimes, even more so than the goal, we need to be able to stop a team’s momentum. You do that by creating your own momentum- making plays and finishing chances. We had chances for ground balls, chances for double teams, chances for 50/50 balls but we always didn’t work hard enough to capitalize on them. When the pressure was on, we chose to play it safe. Playing it safe doesn’t change momentum.
Lesson 3- We’re as good as we want to be. Once we decided to make the change, play with confidence and composure and fine tune our shooting we were able to score when we wanted to. It was enough to tie the game but not enough to win, unfortunately, because we ran out of possessions. We showed, however, that we can create opportunities for ourselves. Why wait until our backs are against the wall???
Lesson 4- Anything is possible. These Bears showed us on Friday to never count them out. We know now that we can chip away at a lead. We know now that no matter how we start we can find a way to finish strong and, despite the score, our will to win CAN prevail.
Sadly, we came up just short of our storybook comeback Friday night. Despite the loss, I know we have learned a lot from this game which is critical for a young team shaping its identity. Next time, given the opportunity for another OT duel, we can say: “We’ve been there. We know what to do.” We can reach into our bag of experience and draw on this game for inspiration. This was a tough loss, but a great game and ignoring the opportunity to learn from it would be the biggest missed opportunity of all.We’ve got a tough UC Davis team up next. Hopefully we’ll be traveling up north with the wisdom gained from our first loss, ready to avenge the disappointment. Come root for us on the road at UC Davis- Saturday at noon. Go Bears!