May 7, 2009
BERKELEY - The California women's water polo team put forth the best season in school history in 2009. The Golden Bears finished the season 31-8 overall, which is the highest number of wins ever and ties the school record for highest winning percentage. This year's team not only scored the most goals in program history, but its goals per game average of 12.54 is also tops in the record books.
The Bears began the season strong at the Michigan Kickoff in Ann Arbor on Jan 24-25. They beat Indiana, No. 10 Michigan and No. 14 Cal State Northridge by a combined score of 29-14. Cal had 11 different players score on the weekend with freshman driver Emily Csikos and junior driver Meghan Corso leading the way with six goals a piece. At the NorCal Cup in Santa Clara, Calif., Jan. 31-Feb. 1, the Bears continued their offensive prowess. Cal earned three wins in handy fashion as it beat its three opponents on the weekend, including a 9-7 win No. 9 UC Davis.
The Bears next traveled to the Colorado State Invitational in Fort Collins, Colo., where they won first place and notched six more victories. The Bears then opened Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play on the road against No. 7 San Jose State which Cal dispatched, 9-4, for its first conference victory. Corso had 15 goals on the weekend, while junior driver Camille Hewko scored 14 of her own. Cal hit its first stumbling block of the season at the Irvine Invitational on Feb. 21-22. After beating No. 12 UC Irvine to extend their winning streak to 14 games, 10-7, the Bears lost the next two matches against No. 4 UCLA and No. 10 ASU. The Bears bounced back to earn seventh place by beating No. 8 San Jose State, 9-6.
Cal had its first home game of the season on Feb. 28 against No. 2 USC but lost, 14-4. The Bears turned around to begin March at the Cal Lutheran Tournament in Thousand Oaks, Calif., from March 6-8. Despite a 11-5 loss to No. 2 UCLA on March 7 in MPSF play, the Bears rebounded the next day. Cal had a great showing at the tournament, defeating Cal Lutheran, 17-5, Villanova, 16-2, Redlands, 16-2, and Ponoma-Pitzer, 15-2. Freshman driver Lauren Barron had a great tournament, scoring 10 goals. The Bears returned home to play a double header on March 14. They defeated MPSF opponent No. 5 SDSU, 13-11, and came right back out to beat Maryland, 9-6. Redshirt senior two-meter defender Paige Lorenz scored five goals on the afternoon to lead all Cal scorers. The next day, March 15, the Bears played a triple header at the Convergence Tournament in Claremont, Calif. Cal won all three matches to present a combined score of 44-12. Barron and Lorenz were again the offensive heroes, scoring 10 goals each on the day.
The Bears then went to San Diego on March 21-22 for the Aztec Invitational, where they defeated No. 12 Hartwick, Brown and No. 18 Indiana. Cal next faced four MPSF opponents. On March 28, the Bears lost to Hawaii on the road, 6-5. Returning home, Cal defeated No. 8 Arizona State, 11-9. Next, the Bears took on No. 1 Stanford for the annual Big Splash, but were edged by the Cardinal at home, 9-8. The Bears bounced back to close out regular season MPSF play against Pacific by winning, 19-8. To close out the regular season, Cal took on No. 14 CSU Bakersfield and won, 15-10.
The Bears earned a four seed for the MPSF Tournament. Cal first defeated No. 6 San Jose State in round one of the tournament in Hawaii on April 24 but lost the next day, 7-4, to No. 1 USC. The Bears then took on No. 3 UCLA in the third place game and were just edged by the Bruins, 8-7. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Stephanie Peckham recorded 34 saves for the tournament.
Over the course of the season, Cal outscored its opponents 489-243, and spent 8 of 14 weeks ranked fifth or better. Thirteen Bears scored in the double digits with Corso leading the way with a team-high 66 goals, including 22 multiple-goal games. Csikos was just behind her with 65 goals of her own. Hewko scored 54 goals, while redshirt junior utility Julie Oreglia scored 51 more. Lorenz rounded out the top five goal scorers by notching 43. Peckham was the starting keeper and had 305 saves, rocketing her to the all-time Cal single season save leader.
Peckham was named the MPSF Co-Player of the Week for the week of March 23. Peckham helped the Bears to three wins at the Aztec Invitational on March 21 and 22. She garnered 38 total saves over the course of three games. She was also given the award for the week of Feb. 2 after leading the Bears to four wins at the NorCal Cup. The redshirt freshman keeper led the defense to 44 periods of scoreless play. Hewko was named the MPSF Co-Player of the Week on April 7 after she scored four goals to lead the No. 5 Golden Bears to an 11-9 victory over No. 8 Arizona State on April 4. Hewko was also named to the All-MPSF second-team as well as the all-tournament team, while redshirt junior utility Stephanie Schnugg was an honorable mention and Csikos earned all-freshman honors.
The full list of record breaking achievements for the 2009 season can be viewed here .