Two-Time National Runner-Up Bears Open 1998 Season
Women's water polo travels to San Diego.
Thur., Feb. 5
NOTING THE BEARS: The California women's water polo team's fell to No. 1 ranked UCLA, 6-3, in the 1997 Collegiate National Championship title match in Ann Arbor, MI. In 1996, the Bruins also defeated Cal, 8-4, in the national title match. Despite losing to UCLA two years in a row, the Bears are the only team to have defeated the Bruins in the last two years. In '97, Cal gave UCLA its only loss (4-3), Feb. 15 at the UC San Diego Invitational; and in '96 the Bears defeated the Bruins, 8-7, in the finals of the Western Regional Qualifying Tournament.
THE 1998 OUTLOOK: Coach Maureen O'Toole, one of the top water polo players in the world and member of the U.S. National Team, competed this past January at the World Championships in Perth, Australia along with Cal senior Alisa von Hartitzsch (Tulsa, OK). Last season, von Hartitzsch was arguably the nation's most dominating collegiate player at two-meters, scoring a phenomenal 119 goals while being named first team All-America, Collegiate National Championship MVP, Western Regional Qualifying Tournament Co-MVP and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Northern Division Player of the Year. Junior Kaliya Young (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), a member of the Canadian National Team that competed at the World Championships, has been a standout for Cal the past two years. She led the Bears in scoring as a freshman with 85 goals and was second on the team with 56 goals last season while earning third team All-America, Collegiate National Championship First Team and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation First Team honors. A couple of other key players for Cal this season will be senior driver Karen Cook (Foster City, CA) and junior goalie Evi Schueller (Mountain View, CA), who both earned third team All-America honors last year. Cook, an outstanding athlete who was a goalie on the Cal soccer team, has developed into a complete player in only her fourth year playing water polo and has amassed 56 goals in her college career. Schueller has been the Bears starting goalie since her freshman year and last season was named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Northern Division Goalie of the Year.
HEAD COACH MAUREEN O'TOOLE: Maureen O'Toole is in her third year as Cal's head women's water polo coach with a 62-14 (.816) career record. Last season, O'Toole led her squad to a 30-8 record and a second-place national finished. She was named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Northern Division Coach of the Year (in both '96 and '97) and Women's Collegiate I Division Coach of the Year by the American Water Polo Coaches Association in 1996. As a player, O'Toole is a 15-time MVP of the U.S. National Championships, a six-time world MVP and is a four-time national Sportswomen of the Year as named by the U.S. Olympic Committee. She competed this past January at the World Championships in Perth, Australia, along with current Cal player Alisa von Hartitzsch.
NOTING THE UC SAN DIEGO INVITATIONAL: The UC San Diego Invitational (Triton Women's Water Polo Invitational) will feature 12 of the top women's water polo teams in the nation. The top seeded teams in the tournament include No. 1 ranked UCLA, No. 2 California, No. 3 Stanford and No. 4 San Diego State-all from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The tournament is divided into four brackets. The A Bracket consists of UCLA, UC San Diego and San Jose State. The B Bracket consists of Cal, UC Davis and UC San Diego B Team. The C Bracket consists of Stanford, USC and Long Beach State and the D Bracket is San Diego State, UC Santa Barbara and Claremont. The Bears will face UC San Diego in a regular dual match before the start of the tournament. Last year, Cal topped the Tritons, 18-3, in the season-opener. At the tournament, the Bears will play the UC San Diego B Team Friday at 5 p.m. and UC Davis at 10 a.m. Saturday. Then at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Cal will play the second place finisher in the C bracket to advance to the semifinals. The finals of the tournament will be 5 p.m. Sunday. In last year's tournament, the Bears lost to national champion UCLA, 8-5, in the title match. Earlier in the tournament, Cal had given the Bruins their only loss of the year, 4-3.