In the last regular season home game for its seniors, No. 2 Cal rolled to a 13-5 victory over No. 20 San Jose State.
The Senior Day victory at Spieker Aquatics Complex brought the Bears’ (17-3, 4-0) conference record to 4-0.
This record guarantees Cal will finish the regular season with a winning record in MPSF play — an achievement it has failed to accomplish in the last two years.
The Bears also eclipsed last year’s win total of 16, with two regular season matches and the whole postseason remaining.
Seniors Dóra Antal, Anna Illés, Carla Carrega and Kacey Avalos combined to score 7 of the Bears’ 13 goals.
Senior goalie Lolo Silver got in on the action after subbing in for starter goalie junior Madison Tagg to begin the fourth, tallying two saves. This fourth period included senior Kindred Paul in order to feature all six seniors that Cal will graduate after this season.
Antal and Illés, a pair of three-time All Americans, climbed up further in Cal’s record books on their special day.
Antal, who scored three goals, increased her program-record goal total to 233. Illés had two of her own as well and now has 154 goals in her career, good for eighth on Cal’s all-time list.
The evening was meant to honor the seniors, but the underclassmen’s stellar play provided a glimpse into Cal’s bright future.
Sophomore Emma Wright brought her goal total on the season to 36 while standout freshman Kitty Lynn Joustra recorded her sixth game with three or more goals. Junior Rachael Lewin got on the board with one goal as well.
This balance between veteran and youth play has been the key to one of Cal’s best seasons in history. The group has a strong chance to finish with fewer than five losses, a feat which has not been accomplished since the 2010-11 season.
But regular season success is not the primary goal for a squad with this much talent. In May, Cal’s sights are set on claiming its first ever NCAA national championship, which is a certainly realistic goal as the Bears had sole possession of the No. 1 ranking just a few weeks ago.
This quest will continue with a conference matchup against No. 3 USC next Saturday in Los Angeles. A win would give the Bears their first ever outright MPSF championship and likely the top seed in both postseason tournaments.
After ending a losing streak against a No. 4 UCLA earlier this year, the same could happen against No. 3 USC, which Cal has not defeated since 2011.
2017-18 is shaping up to be a season of firsts for the Bears. Finishing with its first ever national title would cement that narrative and etch Cal’s historic season in the record books.
Dev Navani covers women’s water polo. Contact him at [email protected].
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Cal women’s water polo was ranked No. 1. In fact, the team was ranked No. 2 when it played San Jose State.