The words “extended their losing streak to 41” are never ones you want associated with your program, but that was exactly what the Cal women’s water polo team had to do Thursday, as the No. 4 Bears lost to No. 1 Stanford for the 41st time in a row. It’s a losing streak that nearly dates to another millennium: The Bears’ last win was in 2000.
Cal lost its regular season finale, 7-3, on the heels of a four-goal unanswered run by the Cardinal in the third quarter to give Stanford a 7-2 lead and put the game well out of reach. The Bears (17-6, 3-3 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) were able to keep the game close up until this run, as they trailed only 3-2, but the Cardinal (21-1, 6-0 MPSF) was the better team all game long.
In the first quarter, the Bears’ offense completely sputtered as it had no real scoring opportunities. They repeatedly turned the ball over, and many of their shots failed to even threaten Stanford junior goalkeeper Gabby Stone, with the other Cardinal players recording three field blocks in the quarter.
Cal was finally able to get on the scoring sheet a few times in the second quarter, but the team was still trailing leading up to Stanford’s big run, when the Cardinal really pulled away. The Bears’ frustration at being unable to beat their rival started to show in the second half: Cal head coach Richard Corso was ejected for arguing with the referees, pushing associate head coach Matt Flesher to the helm.
The Bears also started throwing some bad passes and getting called for a lot of fouls, which seemed to be a result of both frustration and trying to force things in order to get back into the game.
While this game was clearly about Stanford’s domination, the Bears should look to take away some important things to improve on. For one, sophomore goalkeeper Madeline Trabucco did not have a very good game in this one, as she was able to stop only two of the nine shots on goal that Stanford attempted. The poor defensive showing is not all on Trabucco: The rest of the defense needed to play better to give her a chance to succeed.
The Bears’ offense also struggled, as this game tied their lowest scoring output of the whole season: in a 10-3 loss to No. 2 UCLA. Especially harmful to Cal’s offensive efforts was the fact that the team was not able to score on any of its nine 6-on-5 opportunities, which is supposed to be an easy way to put goals on the scoring sheet.
This game, capping off the regular season, solidified a bad run to end the regular season for Cal, which went 3-5 in its last eight games after starting out the season, 14-1. The Bears clearly were not on their A-game in this match, and a repeat of that kind of performance in the coming weeks does not bode well for the team’s championship aspirations.
“The team doesn’t feel like we put forth our best game in this one,” Flesher said. “We played well for a lot of the game, but we need to put forth a complete game moving forward.”
Hooman Yazdanian covers women’s water polo. Contact him at [email protected].