In the regular season finale, Fresno State lacrosse faced a familiar opponent in UC Davis.
It was the third game and the second at home for the conference opponents, and Fresno State head coach Kara Concheck told three things to her team: play relentless, determined and united.
The Bulldogs (1-11, 0-2 MPSF) had their best game against the Aggies (11-4, 2-0 MPSF), but time of possession was the difference on Saturday as the Aggies pulled away 27-14 at the Soccer and Lacrosse Stadium.
UC Davis had possession for about 80% of the game, Concheck said, as Fresno State had to collapse on defense. The Aggies had many second-chance opportunities to score as well.
“We gave them a few too many second opportunities. We really want to make our opponents work for quality goals, and we had too many goals that were second-chance goals,” Concheck said.
To start the game, Hannah Krats put Fresno State on the board early, giving the team a 1-0 lead. For the next three minutes, the Bulldogs and the Aggies traded goals back-to-back.
UC Davis’s Anna Hofgard passed to Alex Agnew who scored to tie it up. Then Maddie Myers gave the Aggies the lead with another goal.
Fresno State junior Sydney Skalstad responded after, scoring a goal to tie the game up. UC Davis recorded four straight goals in the next four minutes — three of them from attacker Sorana Larson who helped the team lead 6-2.
The Bulldogs responded and scored two goals. Hennessey Evans scored on a free position shot, and Skalstad recorded her second goal of the day to cut the Aggies’ lead to 6-4 with 21:03 left to go.
After that, Fresno State only made two goals in 12 minutes. Logann Eldredge scored her 17th goal of the season, and Skalstad added another from a free position shot.
But during that same span, UC Davis notched seven goals to lead 13-6 with 8:38 left to go. The Bulldogs looked to make a run late as Evans scored a goal after a save from senior goalie Courtney Walburger. The next play, Fresno State recorded a draw control and went downfield.
The Bulldogs displayed their teamwork on the offensive end with a connection of passes from Kristen Zenor to Krats to Lauren Kiszely to Megan Walaitis who added a point for the Bulldogs, cutting the lead to 13-8.
It was all UC Davis from that point on. The Aggies scored four more goals to lead 17-8 at the end of the first period. Second-chance opportunities for the Aggies hurt the Bulldogs, but there was one bright spot on defense.
Walburger recorded 11 saves in the first period, helping Fresno State stay within striking distance.
“Courtney made some point-blank saves and really was crucial for us between the pipes today and a huge amount of our success,” Concheck said.
Concheck said the team started out with a reactive style of play, but the tone changed in the second period. The Bulldogs went down the field quickly as Kiszely passed it to Eldredge who was able to quickly score.
UC Davis’ Hofgard scored a goal at the 27-minute mark to give the Aggies a 18-9 lead. But Fresno State then made three straight goals in one minute.
In that run, Evans curled around the goal and scored then Kiszely lobbed a pass to Ortman by the right side of the goal for another point on the board. Skalstad capped the run, driving in to score and cutting the lead to 18-12.
Coming out of the first period, Concheck told the team to focus on one thing at a time, and it made a difference as Fresno State recorded five goals early in the second period while holding UC Davis to just one goal with 23 minutes left.
“Hustling after every 50-50 ball, really aiming to dominate position and then playing united, that’s been our game plan… That was my message, and we came out strong,” she said.
The Aggies controlled the game from that point on, scoring nine goals and holding Fresno State to just two. Larson led the way for the Aggies with nine goals and one assist. Right behind her was Hofgard with 4 goals and one assist.
For Fresno State, Skalstad led the way with four goals and Eldredge and Evans each had a hat trick. Walburger ended with 18 saves, the third most in program history.
It was an eventful day for the team captains as Krats, Walaitis, Kiszely, Abbigayle Roberts, Gonzales and Walburger were honored as part of senior day before the start of the game. All of these seniors have been a part of the program since 2018 and had a chance to be recognized with their families in the stand.
“Definitely emotional but we’re super happy that we’re able to have their family share the day with us, and we were able to have the attendance that we did. We’re just really grateful for our seniors and their leadership,” Concheck said.
Now Fresno State will play San Diego State (5-7, 1-1 MPSF) in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships next Friday at home. Despite losing 18-11 in their last matchup, Concheck said she’s expecting a close battle.
“When we work as a cohesive unit, we can really compete with anybody. And I think that SDSU is a little bit reluctant to come here which is exciting for us because the last Tuesday we played we had more scoring opportunities than them,” she said. “We just need to put the ball in the back of the net.”