Senior Dóra Antal, a three-time All-American and two-time Olympian, scored a remarkable 15 goals in a dominant offensive showing to lead the No. 2 Cal women’s water polo team to three victories against in-state rivals this weekend at the Cal Cup in Berkeley.
The Bears defeated the two toughest teams on their tournament schedule — No. 11 UC Davis (2-2) and No. 7 UC Irvine (1-2). At the end of the weekend, Cal remained perfect at 6-0 after routing No. 22 Fresno State (1-4) by a score of 19-6.
Antal tied Cal’s all time goal record — matching Emily Csikos’ 216 — in the win against No. 22 Fresno State, when she found the back of the cage five times. Antal scored six times in the Bears’ impressive 15-6 win against the Aggies and added four more in a close 10-8 game against the Anteaters.
“You can’t find a shooter like Dora anywhere in the world,” said Cal head coach Coralie Simmons. “Her ability to get open, read the goalie and her phenomenal ball skills make it a hard matchup to guard.”
Other Cal performances on the weekend included sophomore Emma Wright’s game against UC Davis and senior Carla Carrega clutch play against UC Irvine. Carrega’s goal inside two minutes gave the Bears a comfortable 10-8 lead after the Anteaters had rallied from a 9-6 deficit early in the fourth.
“It was nice to get a tight game against Irvine, who came out and played us very strong,” Simmons said. “Getting a physical game under our belt will help us going into future tournaments.”
Junior goalie Madison Tagg had four saves against UC Davis, as the Cal defense clamped down and only allowed one goal in the second half. In the win over UC Irvine, she had two key saves on unobstructed scoring opportunities early in the second, maintaining Cal’s 3-1 lead.
Starters Anna Illés, Kindred Paul and Kacey Avalos each added a goal of their own against UC Davis. Illés found the cage again Sunday against UC Irvine and twice more against Fresno State.
Ten Bears scored against the Bulldogs in a commanding effort to close out the Cal Cup.
Complementing the strong senior play, many freshmen continued to impress for Cal. Elli Protopapas scored three goals against Fresno State, while Kitty Lynn Joustra scored her first career goal against UC Irvine.
Sophomore Hannah DeRose scored a goal in each of the games against UC Davis and Fresno State, while freshman Claire Sonne played in all five games for the Bears.
“(DeRose) has come a long way, holding position well and being available for her teammates,” Simmons said. “(Sonne) continues to improve defensively and has become a threat scoring for us as a freshman.”
In addition, Cal lost two exhibitions this weekend, falling 10-9 to the Chinese national team Saturday afternoon and losing 9-7 to No. 16 San Jose State (2-3) on Sunday morning. Mostly backups played the second half against China, while many starters did not play against SJSU, instead saving energy for the later game against Fresno State.
The Bears will travel to the Stanford Invitational this weekend for rematches against San Jose State and UC Davis as well as a key matchup against No. 8 Michigan.
Dev Navani covers women’s water polo. Contact him at [email protected].