Junior Breda Vosters never shies away from the opportunity to shoot.
She didn’t this weekend in the Cal women’s water polo team’s 8-6 victory over No. 8 UC Irvine on Saturday.
With 1:21 left in the contest at Spieker Aquatics Center, Vosters had the ball roughly nine meters from the goal with the shot clock running out.
The Anteaters had just recently scored to narrow Cal’s lead to one point, and coach Richard Corso had received a yellow card for arguing.
Irvine had the momentum. Cal was reeling.
“Everybody was riled up and not focused on the game plan,” sophomore Ashley Young said.
Vosters calmly took the ball and released a slow floater — not a bullet, not a finesse shot.
“It was 2…1…0, she has to shoot that ball and she has to score,” Corso said. “She did it under five seconds, using the clock. Those big moments present themselves.”
Off Vosters’ final goal of the day, Cal (15-4, 2-0 in MPSF) scraped the two-point victory. Yet the No. 4 Bears struggled against a fast Irvine squad that won every sprint of the game.
The Anteaters — favorites to win the Big West this year and make it to the NCAA’s — have challenged top MPSF teams all year. In four games against MPSF opponents, Irvine (12-4) has only lost by an average of 1.5 goals a game.
“UCI is badly ranked,” Young said. “They have some strong players, and they hang in there with top teams, but we should have put it in more goals against them.”
Cal led 4-2 at halftime, yet Irvine responded with three goals while the Bears could only muster up one. The visitors tied the contest at 5-5 midway through the third quarter.
The Anteaters’ pressure pushed the Cal athletes farther and farther away from the net, with every Cal pass going to a covered teammate.
“The first 10 to 15 seconds in their press they played very physical,” Corso said.
However, the team finally found success late in the game with two goals from Young, pushing the Bear lead to 7-5.
“When they drop in on our centers, that leaves a side open and we are being patient,” Young said. “It leaves an opportunity to catch and shoot, and I have been fortunate to be that person.”