After being named MPSF player of the week, Cal senior and three-time All-American Dóra Antal will lead the No. 2 Cal women’s water polo team to the Stanford Invitational this weekend. She is also expected to become Cal’s all-time scoring leader, having tied the 216-goal mark at the Cal Cup last Sunday.
While many around the team are excited about the scoring record, Antal is much more patient and focused on the upcoming games.
“I honestly hate having to deal with this,” said Antal, in a CalBears article. “If it’s going to happen, it should come naturally and not forced.”
The Bears (6-0) hope to improve to 10-0 on the season, with games scheduled against No. 12 San Jose State, No. 10 Michigan, No. 8 UC Davis and a potential matchup with No. 1 Stanford.
The Bears will play in Bracket B with the Spartans, the Wolverines and the Aggies, while the Cardinal will play in Bracket A. The winner of each bracket will play in the tournament final Sunday afternoon.
Although Cal lost all three games it played against Stanford last season, the Bears were ranked No. 2 by USA Water Polo earlier this week. Their rating in these rankings is the highest it has been since Feb. 1, 2012.
But before Stanford, Cal will have to defeat a series of difficult challengers, all top-12 teams in the country. Sweeping the competition this weekend would certainly put the Bears in discussion for the No. 1 spot in the national rankings.
The Bears lost to the Spartans 9-7 in an exhibition last weekend in which mostly backups played. Cal will fire its most powerful ammo this time around and should make quick work of San Jose State within the first half.
This arsenal of weapons will include sophomore standout attacker Emma Wright, who is second on the team in scoring with 14 goals on the season in six games. Other players to look for are senior attacker Carla Carrega and junior goalie Madison Tagg.
Carrega has done an excellent job in the center close to goal, racking up an impressive total of 12 goals in her six appearances in the water.
Tagg will hope to anchor the Cal defense this weekend at Stanford. She has been superb so far as Cal’s primary keeper, surrendering only 22 goals in five games, along with saving 18 shots.
The Wolverines will be looking to avenge their 13-9 loss at last year’s Stanford Invitational against the Bears, but don’t expect these Cal women to lose focus.
After just having defeated UC Davis soundly at the Cal Cup, the Bears will meet the Aggies again in Stanford.
Cal has a golden opportunity to make a powerful splash in the world of collegiate water polo this weekend. Defeating Stanford in their own water, coupled with Antal’s expected new record, would be an inspiring and productive start to a season filled with championship aspirations.
Dev Navani covers women’s water polo. Contact him at [email protected].