The Cal women’s water polo team could almost taste the victory. The Bears had a win close within reach until the final minutes of the fourth quarter, when the Sun Devils managed to score in the last minute of the game.
Cal hung on to their lead with a little under five minutes left in the game. But the Sun Devils managed to catch up, and with just 1:15 left in the game, a goal by Arizona State’s sophomore Petra Pardi broke the tie and took the wind out of Cal’s sails.
The No. 5 Bears (12-5, 0-3) suffered a heartbreaking 10-9 loss to No. 3 ASU (15-4, 3-1) Saturday afternoon at the Spieker Aquatics Complex.
The game began with the Sun Devils scoring first on a penalty shot. But Cal senior driver Emily Csikos answered back with a penalty shot of her own, her first of four goals for the day.
The game continued as a goal-for-goal battle between these two teams, and the first half ended with Arizona State leading 4-3. Although the Bears were able to tie the score several different times, the Sun Devils ended the third quarter leading 7-6.
Everything changed when the fourth quarter came around.
The final quarter started with Arizona State winning the sprint and attacking almost instantly. Cal’s goalkeeper Savanna Smith had two spectacular saves to counter these attacks.
These saves ultimately led to junior driver Ashley Young scoring to tie the game, 7-7.
Young’s goal was quickly followed with senior driver Breda Vosters stealing the ball from the Sun Devils’ possession and scoring her second goal of the game, giving the Bears their first lead, 8-7.
Cal’s fourth-quarter drive didn’t stop there.
Within 30 seconds of Vosters’ go-ahead goal, senior two-meter Dana Oschner scored with an assist from sophomore Tiera Schroeder, giving the Bears a 9-7 lead.
But the Bears’ luck quickly ran out, and the Sun Devils took control of the rest of the game.
Arizona State scored two goals within one minute as well, tying the game 9-9 with more than three minutes left in the game, and hope remained for the Bears until the Sun Devils’ Pardi scored the last goal of the game.
Pardi threw a rocket from the right side on a Cal exclusion with 1:15 left in the game, giving Arizona State the lead, 10-9.
“We battled back and went up by two in the fourth, and that’s definitely an improvement to what we’ve done in the past, and I think that we had some beautiful team plays and we played stronger and faster defense – we just had some lapses,” Csikos said.
Csikos attempted a last-second shot that was blocked by the Sun Devil goalkeeper.
Cal’s last chance to move up in the polls before the MPSF tournament with a win over Arizona State was over.
“We definitely played better for a longer period today, but it doesn’t matter when you give up three goals in four minutes, so we have to put a full game together if we want to start winning them,” said senior captain Kirstn Mase.
Alicia Fong covers women’s water polo. Contact her at [email protected].