No. 3 Trojans welcome No. 2 Bears

Senior Colleen Fotsch remembers defeating USC at home last year, but amid the great memory is the realization that she has never beaten the Trojans in USC’s home pool.

Two years ago, when the meet was away, Fotsch and the Bears lost a closely contested matchup, 153-147.

Almost exactly one year ago, the Cal women’s swimming team was undefeated and hosted USC and UCLA for its final home dual meets of the year.

Cal crushed both the teams, throttling the Trojans, 182-118, and besting the Bruins, 168-131.5. The Bears rode that pace to the team title at the NCAA Championships.

This time around, the No. 2 Cal will face a more difficult challenge as the matchup returns to McDonald’s Swim Stadium in Southern California.

Head coach Teri MccKeever’s squad will face USC Friday at 2 p.m. as it looks to continue its winning streak against No. 3 USC.

Though the rest of the season will be away from Spieker Aquatics Complex, Cal enters this matchup with momentum, coming off wins against No. 5 Arizona and No. 24 Arizona State.

The close of this season will be vital for the team as it builds up steam in preparation for the NCAA Championships.

“The NCAA Championships motivate us every day,” Fotsch said. “Every one of us who was here (last year) knows the feeling of being a national champion, and we all know how great that felt.”

Cal associate head coach Kristin Cunnane knows the feeling of victory, but also knows that coming out on top against USC will not be easy, and she will likely have to change around her team’s tactics.

“This is a time for our freshman and sophomore classes to really step up,” Cunnane said. “The juniors and seniors really did a good job last weekend against Arizona, and we’re looking for some of our younger athletes to shine.”

Although the underclassmen will have to carry much of the load for Cal to succeed, these last three regular season meets are the final ones as Bears for seniors like Fotsch.

All eight seniors were honored at the last home meet against Arizona State and gave a great performance, leading the team to a 169-114 win which they hope to replicate for the next two months as their careers as Bears come to an end.

“As a senior, I really just try to lay it on the line each and every race,” Fotsch said. “We try to enjoy every practice, every meet and just the competitiveness.”

One day after their meet against USC, the Bears will take on UCLA in a noon matchup on Saturday at the Spieker Aquatics Complex in Los Angeles.

The Bruins have given Cal trouble this year, beating the Bears in a 400 freestyle relay at the Arena Invitational last November.

“We are really excited to have a rematch with UCLA,” Cunnane said. “These teams always provide for great dual meets, and we want to come away with two great wins down in L.A.”