Cal women’s water polo head coach Richard Corso steps down effective Thursday

Berkeley, Ca - Tuesday, February 7, 2015.  Cal Women's Water Polo competes against the University of Pacific at Spieker Aquatics Center at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California.  Cal beat Pacific, 16-4.
Cal Athletics/Courtesy
Berkeley, Ca - Tuesday, February 7, 2015. Cal Women's Water Polo competes against the University of Pacific at Spieker Aquatics Center at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California. Cal beat Pacific, 16-4.

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The Cal women’s water polo team’s longtime head coach, Richard Corso, announced he would be stepping down from his post effective Sept. 1. In the release, which came Wednesday, Corso did not specify whether his decision came as a precursor to his retirement.

Corso coached the Bears for 11 years and was the most effective coach in the program’s history, never finishing a season ranked below sixth in the country. Cal compiled a 227-98 record during Corso’s time in Berkeley. The team’s best finish during Corso’s tenure came in 2011, when the Bears reached the title game before ultimately losing to their cross-bay rivals, Stanford.

“I walk away proud of my successes at Berkeley and the influence that I have had on my teams and my fellow coaches here at Cal,” Corso, a member of the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame, said to Cal Athletics. “I will continue to focus on the well-being of my current team and their overall academic and water polo endeavors until Sept. 1.”

Cal is in the process of conducting a “national search” for Corso’s replacement. It may have a readymade replacement on staff, however, as the Bears recently appointed former San Jose State head coach Johnny Bega to their staff as Corso’s associate head coach.

Either way, it likely won’t be difficult selling the prestige of the Bears’ program to prospective hires. Despite failing to win a national championship throughout Corso’s tenure, Cal has consistently been in the title conversation and one of the top teams in the country.

Additionally, the Bears’ team for the upcoming season looks like a surefire title contender. Dora Antal, Anna Illes and Roser Tarrago, who missed last season to prepare for the Olympics, will all likely be returning to the fold in 2017. Adding such an offensive punch to a lineup that also features Carla Carrega will give the Bears one of the best goalscoring units in the country.

Tarrago especially adds to the Cal defense, where her speed and athleticism makes her an asset in the passing lanes. This versatility should help make things easier not just for goalkeepers Madison Tagg and Madeline Trabucco but for whoever the Bears choose to take over for Corso.

Hooman Yazdanian is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @hoomanyazdanian