BERKELEY - This Week in Cal Water Polo
After two weeks without a game, the No. 5 California women's water polo team will participate in the Irvine Invitational this weekend. The Golden Bears will play No. 13 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday to open the tournament and will play either No. 12 Long Beach State or No. 4 Hawaii on Saturday afternoon. The tournament features 16 of the top 17 teams in the country and 12 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation teams. The Golden Bears are 4-3 against teams in the tournament this season and will use the nonconference games as a tune-up before returning MPSF play on March 1.
Scouting the Irvine Tournament
The Bears will play No. 13 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 12:45 p.m. to open the tournament. The Gauchos (4-3 overall, 0-1 in the MPSF) are coached by first-year head coach Jenn Durley and bring a three-game losing streak to Irvine. UCSB split four games at the UC San Diego Triton Invitational but loss its first MPSF game to then-ranked No. 14 Long Beach State, 10-6, on Feb. 16. The Bears own a 23-1 all-time series record over the Gauchos and have won the past four games. After Santa Barbara on Saturday afternoon, Cal will face either No. 12 LBSU or No. 4 Hawaii depending on the teams' first games of the day. All 16 teams will play two games on Sunday.
Recently in Cal Water Polo
The Bears have not been played a game since the Stanford Invitational (Feb. 9-10), where they took fifth in a competitive field of eight teams. After dropping its first game of the competitive Stanford Invitational to No. 2 USC, 9-3, Cal rebounded with an 11-7 victory over No. 11 Arizona State, thanks to a season-high four goals from sophomore utility Darby Anderson. The Bears beat No. 7 San Jose State for the second time this season on Feb. 10, 9-8, to clinch fifth place at the Stanford Invitational after losing 11-6 to No. 3 Stanford earlier that day. Sophomore two-meter Grace Reynolds had six goals in the tournament with a team-high three against San Jose State, one of which was the game-winning goal in the second overtime period.
On the Pool Deck With Head Coach Richard Corso
"We look forward to the competition. It's been two weeks since our last game, but we've had not two weeks off, but two weeks to come back and prepare for this tournament and our MPSF opponents. This weekend is another opportunity to move up in the national rankings. We're currently fifth in the nation, but we want to break into the top four and then into the top three. The tournament gives us a chance to do that and see the MPSF teams one more time before returning to conference play."
The Golden Bears in the MPSF
With the wins over UOP and SJSU, the Bears currently are in fifth place in the MPSF at 2-1. Cal had not won its first two conference games before this year since the 2000 season when the Bears went on a 7-0 MPSF winning streak at the beginning of conference play. Sophomore two-meter Grace Reynolds is tied for 13th in the MPSF with 17 goals (1.89 goals/game). Senior Heather Stuart's work between the posts - 9.00 saves/game - places her fourth amongst conference goalies. California's stellar defense is fourth in the MPSF, allowing just 6.67 goals per game.
California Off to Best Start in Years
The Golden Bears began the season 4-0, which tied the second-best start in program history - the 1999 and 1998 squads began their seasons 4-0. With their current 6-3 overall record, this year's team has the best start since the 2003 campaign. Additionally, the 92 goals that Cal has scored in its first nine games is one goal shy of the school record of 93 through the first four games of play.
After playing in two tournaments on the road, the Bears return home to conference play on Saturday, March 1. Cal will host No. 10 Irvine on March 1 and No. 12 Long Beach State on March 2, with both matches slated for 12 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears round out the homestand on March 8 with a Saturday game against No. 3 USC on March 8.
Cal Tabbed for Third-Place Finish
California was predicted to tie for third place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, according to a preseason coaches' poll released Jan. 18. The Golden Bears, who tied with Stanford with 107 points, earned one first-place vote. UCLA, which has won three straight national championships and return three scoring leaders from last season's squad, took first place in the poll with 132 points and 11 first-place votes.
Bears Ink Four Recruits
Four high school recruits have signed national letters of intent to play for California. Emily Csikos, a member of the Canadian junior national team from 2004-06, is a current senior national team member. Lindsay Dorst, the only United States native to sign a NLI with Cal, is an All-American goalkeeper and member of the USA youth team. Athina Vazeos only began playing water polo five years ago but has quickly transformed into an elite athlete at the national level in Canada and has helped her club team to multiple national championships. Libby McLaren amassed a multitude of awards and championships while playing for Australian club teams and is a standout on the Miramonte HS team.
BEARS RECORD WHEN
Game decided by 5 goals or less:3-1 Leading at halftime: 2-0 Trailing at halftime: 0-2 Tied at halftime: 0-1 Went into overtime: 1-0 Leading by 5 or more at halftime: 3-0 Holding opponent under 10 goals: 5-2 Scoring 1-8 goals: 0-3 Scoring 9-15 goals: 5-0 Scoring 16-25 goals: 1-0 Playing a higher ranked opponent: 0-3 Playing a lower ranked opponent: 4-0 Playing an unranked opponent: 2-0