For the second straight weekend, the No. 2 Cal women’s water polo team will have four games over two days. Bears coach Richard Corso has no complaints.
“I love it. It’s good,” Corso said. “It’s more adversity, and we need adversity.”
Spieker Aquatics Complex plays host to eight teams this weekend. Some of the top teams in the country, including five in the top 20, will be fighting it out in the California Speedo Invitational.
No. 1 Stanford, No. 5 San Jose State, No. 11 Loyola Marymount and No. 16 UC Davis will be joining the Bears (4-0) for the early season tournament. However, Cal will only face LMU, and despite the prime opportunity to scout these highly ranked teams, Corso is focused on the Bears.
“We are concentrating on our team,” Corso said. “We are going to scout, we are going to look at tendencies, but the main emphasis, it’s all about us.”
Cal opens competition this Friday with a back-to-back against Pomona at 3 p.m. and then Cal Baptist at 4:30 p.m.. Although the bears will remain zeroed on what they do, they will take care not to overlook their opening day opponents.
“You have to been ready for any team, any challenge,” freshman Melissa Hale said. “We try to be aware of anything that could happen.”
The grueling schedule places the Bears back in the water at 3 p.m. on Saturday against LMU, the team’s highest-ranked opponent thus far. The Lions lost to the Bears two years ago in the NCAAs.
“They will be fired up to play us,” Corso said. “We got a target painted on our back.”
The team will play in the conclusion of the Invitational against Cal State Monterey at 7:30.
Despite the 3-0 record the Bears posted against their Invitational opponents this season, Cal will use this weekend as yet another early test and also a chance to improve technicalities after the Spartan Invitational.
“Over the games last weekend, there was game slippage,” Corso said. “We got away from our game not only on offense but also on defense. It’s the politically correct way to say ‘lazy.’”
The team’s offense received a boost from freshman Tiera Schroeder, who was named MPSF Newcomer of the Week after scoring three goals in her first collegiate match.
However, the squad’s defense was inconsistent and not worthy of its No. 2 ranking.
“Defense! Defense and moving the ball in towards the cage,” freshman Victoria Williams said. “That’s what coach has been stressing in practice.”
Though there won’t be a tourney champion, the Bears are motivated to play as a championship team, one that can handle adversity.