No. 4 Cal women’s water polo unable to take down No. 1 Stanford

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If anyone had doubted it before, Cal women’s water polo stars Dora Antal, Emma Wright and Anna Illes are proving that three’s a company. The triumvirate alone outscored the Bears’ first three opponents at the Stanford Invitational a whopping 23-17. The trio also collectively scored more than the rest of its team combined, proving its utter offensive supremacy in the water.

In its first game of the weekend, Cal (8-1) played No. 16 San Jose State (3-7). The Bears went off to a strong start against the Spartans, scoring seven unanswered goals in the first two quarters before SJSU finally finished an opportunity with 3:23 left in the first half. The score at half was 8-2 in Cal’s favor, a lead that it extended in the remainder of the game, closing it out with a 15-6 victory. The first win of the weekend was sparked by three goals apiece from Antal and Emily Loughlin.

The Bears’ next game Saturday would prove to be a more difficult win than the first. Facing No. 7 Michigan (6-3), Cal had to rely more heavily on a strong defensive showing, particularly from goalie Madeline Trabucco who recorded seven saves in the contest. That being said, there was not a moment in the game in which the Bears languished. Cal scored two quick goals within the first 1:15 and held onto the lead throughout the course of the game.

The offensive showing from the Bears was impressive as they scored four goals in the first quarter and three in each subsequent one. Illes and Wright led the team this time around, netting three goals apiece in the 13-9 victory.

Cal finally got some rest Saturday night and resumed play Sunday morning against No. 18 UC Davis (2-8). The Aggies were coming off of two losses Saturday against the opponents that the Bears had already handily beaten, boding well for Cal’s chances. Indeed, the Bears found success easily against the Aggies, winning 17-2.

The majority of Cal’s goals were scored in the first half, where the Bears netted 11 total goals to UC Davis’ one. Once that hefty lead was built up, Cal relaxed and scored six more in the second half and allowed the Aggies to score just one more in the contest.

But the Bears were yet to see a higher-ranked foe, which all changed when they faced No. 1 Stanford (7-0) later that day. The Cardinal scored four goals in the first quarter before Cal even got on the scoreboard, a deficit the Bears were not used to facing. By halftime, Cal had cut Stanford’s lead to two but couldn’t make up for the early deficit in the second half.

Despite a superb performance in goal from Trabucco, who put up seven saves, the Bears’ offense could not muster enough strength to compete with the unbeaten Cardinal. With only three players on Cal scoring — Antal, Wright and Illes — there simply was not enough production to muster a win and the Bears fell, 10-7. The loss marks the first one of the season for Cal, and puts a darker stamp on an otherwise wildly successful weekend for the Bears.

A previous version of this article misspelled Dora Antal’s name.

Sophie Goethals is the assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]