With 2:25 left in the fourth quarter on Thursday, Cal coach Richard Corso decided he needed to slow the action down and call a timeout. The Bears had been scoreless for the entire second half and Hawaii had pulled within one point just minutes earlier.
“I told the girls to balance their frontcourt offense, be patient, make them play defense for 35 seconds,” Corso said. “We had been going up and back, up and back. I thought, ‘alright, let’s take a break here and let’s do this.”
Out of the timeout, Cal took its time, methodically passing the ball around its semi-circle late into the shot clock. The ball reached senior Elizabeth McLaren who took a few big strokes forward and fired a bullet that found the back of the net.
The Bears went up by two and put the game out of reach of the Rainbow Wahine. With zero on the clock, the scoreboard read Cal 8, Hawaii 5.
No. 2 Cal women’s water polo earned its first three points in MPSF league play by beating the No. 10 Rainbow Wahine. The Bears (9-0, 1-0) were led by three goals from Breda Vosters, who continues to look strong in her return from injury.
Although Vosters found success against the Hawaii defense, the rest of the team struggled to score goals. Cal had a 6-3 lead at halftime, but its offense was unproductive for the entire third quarter while the Rainbow Wahines slowly climbed back into the match.
The Bears’ offense hit the post on multiple occasions, with one shot seeming to tease the fans in the bleachers by skipping across the line until the Hawaii keeper was able to grab it.
“We had a lot of opportunities that were just bar-outs,” junior Kirstn Mase. “They are killer, but that’s from being tired. Your elbow comes down, and then nothing goes in for you.”
Early foul trouble hurt Cal by forcing many younger, less experienced players into a physical and competitive MPSF contest.
The squad had to play elite defense to make up for the foul trouble and lethargic offense, with many key defensive possessions coming during the scoreless streak.
“We have been working on our five-man defense and I think that showed at the end,” sophomore Ashley Young said. “Once we all get together and focus up we can make those huge stops.”
Two goalies, junior Lindsay Dorst (five saves) and freshman Savannah Smith (three saves), anchored the Bear’s defensive effort.
“Lindsay was on fire the other day against LMU,” Corso said. “I just played Savannah and she played well. It’s nice to have two good goalies”
Emerging victorious over their top-ranked opponent of the season thus far is a good start to a week that includes the Stanford Invitational. The tournament will test the Bears’ toughness, stamina and skill.
“Having this win going into Stanford will give us momentum going in,” Young said. “It is good to have on our shoulders.”