No. 3 California Hosts No. 11 Irvine, No. 13 Long Beach State
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  02/27/2008

Feb. 27, 2008


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This Week in Cal Water Polo
After playing in two tournaments on the road, the Bears (9-4 overall, 2-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) return home to conference play on this weekend. Cal will host No. 11 Irvine on March 1 and No. 13 Long Beach State on March 2, with both matches slated for 12 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. This weekend's games are the first MPSF contests for the Golden Bears since losing a heartbreaking game to then-No. 4 Hawaii on Feb. 7. Cal's number three ranking is the highest national ranking for the Bears since February 2001 when they were third in the nation.

The Wide World of U.S. Water Polo
With the wins over then-ranked No. 4 Hawaii and No. 3 USC, California won its first games of the 2008 campaign over higher ranked teams. The Bears' successful weekend garnered national attention and Cal moved from No. 5 in the national poll to No. 3. The Bears spent seven weeks last season at No. 4. Cal's number three ranking is the highest national ranking for the Bears since February 2001 when they were third in the nation.

Recapping the Irvine Tournament
The Bears finished third at the competitive UC Irvine Invitational last weekend in Southern California. Cal swept the first day of play Saturday, cruising to a 7-2 win over No. 13 UC Santa Barbara and upsetting No. 4 Hawaii, 11-9. Against No. 1 UCLA on Sunday, the Bears scored three unanswered goals to get within one, 5-4, with 54 seconds to go in the third quarter, but the top-ranked Bruins tacked on four goals to take the 9-4 win. In the third-place match, Cal earned it second upset of the weekend with a 9-4 victory over No. 3 USC. Senior defender Molly Hayes and sophomore two-meter Grace Reynolds paced the Golden Bears, each scoring seven goals in four games.

On the Pool Deck With Head Coach Richard Corso
On the UCI Invitational and upcoming games: "Finishing third in a premiere tournament in the country is a big step for the program. We can't lose focus with our conference opponents, however. It's critical that we come back and train for Irvine and Long Beach State this weekend. The team is coming together - that's the biggest thing for us. The team is really figuring it out."

Scouting UC Irvine
The Anteaters (7-5, 1-2 in the MPSF) split four games at their UC Irvine Invitational last weekend with wins over No. 16 UC San Diego (6-2) and No. 12 Long Beach State (8-5) losses to No. 7 San Jose State (12-3) and No. 6 San Diego State (8-9). Senior Jessica Lewis and Gianna Rossi, who is fourth all-time at UCI with 113 goals, lead the Anteaters with 17 goals each on the year. Cal leads the all-time series against UCI, 7-1, and has won the past two meetings, including an 8-6 overtime victory last year at Irvine. The Anteaters play Friday at UC Davis before traveling to Berkeley.

Team		Games	Goals	G/G	GA	GAA
Cal		13	123	9.46	88	6.77
UC Irvine		12	86	7.17	86	7.17

Scouting Long Beach State
Long Beach State (6-6, 1-1 in the MPSF) finished 11th at last weekend's UC Irvine Invitational. The Bears hold an 11-7 all-time advantage over the 49ers but the squads have split the past six meetings and LBSU defeated Cal in the first round of the MPSF Tournament last year, 12-9. The Beach's leading scorer is senior Dayna Wawrzynski, who in 20 games this season averages 1.67 goals per game (19th in the MPSF). LBSU goalie freshman Kristen Straiger averages 9.00 saves per game, which is fourth in the conference.

Team		Games	Goals	G/G	GA	GAA
Cal		13	123	9.46	88	6.77
LBSU		12	109	9.08	12	8.92

Between the Posts
Senior Heather Stuart was instrumental in Cal's successful weekend at the UC Irvine Invitational, grabbing 42 saves between the posts. In the 7-2 win over No. 13 UC Santa Barbara in the first game of the tournament, Stuart had 11 saves and then made 12 crucial saves during the 11-9 overtime upset victory over No. 4 Hawaii. Stuart made seven saves in goal in the 9-4 loss to top-ranked UCLA on Sunday morning and had 12 saves in Cal's second upset of the weekend - a 9-8 win over No. 3 USC. Stuart now has 114 saves in 12 games in goal for the Golden Bears and is first in the MPSF in average saves per game at 9.50.

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 13th in the MPSF with 24 goals (1.85 goals/game), while senior defender Molly Hayes is 25th with 21 goals (1.62 goals/game). Senior Heather Stuart's work between the posts - 9.50 saves/game - places her first amongst conference goalies. California's stellar defense is fourth in the MPSF, allowing just 6.77 goals per game.

California Off to Best Start in Years
The Golden Bears began the season 4-0, which tied the 1999 and 1998 squads for second-best start in program history. With its current 9-4 overall record, this year's team has the best start since the 2005 campaign. Additionally, the 123 goals that Cal has scored in its first 13 games is the highest of a Golden Bear team since the 1997 national runner-up squad.

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 returns 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 6-2
Leading at halftime 4-0
Trailing at halftime 1-3
Tied at halftime 0-1
Went into overtime 2-0
Leading by 5 or more at halftime 3-0
Holding opponent under 10 goals 8-3
Scoring 1-8 goals1-4
Scoring 9-15 goals 2-0
Scoring 16-25 goals 1-0
Playing a higher ranked opponent 2-4
Playing a lower ranked opponent 5-0
Playing an unranked opponent 2-0