No. 2 Cal women’s water polo stifles No. 10 UC Davis in 15-goal win

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Although the rankings of No. 2 Cal and No. 10 UC Davis are relatively close, the match between the NorCal foes this past weekend at Schaal Aquatics Center in Davis was nothing of the sort. The Bears rolled to an overwhelming 16-1 win, keeping the Aggies (10-6) off the scoreboard until the third quarter.

Sophomore Emma Wright scored four goals for the Bears (10-1), continuing her steady dosage of offensive power. The win was Wright’s fourth game in a row in which she has found the back of the cage multiple times.

In addition, sophomore Hannah DeRose and freshman Elli Protopapas each added hat tricks of their own Saturday. Junior goalie Madison Tagg more than doubled her season average of four saves per game with nine against UC Davis.

The victory marks the third instance this season in which Cal has defeated a ranked opponent by at least 15 goals, the other two being against No. 17 San Jose State and No. 23 Marist.

What’s more is that the Bears held a top-10 opponent to just one goal. The last time Cal pitched this strong of a defensive effort against such a team was 2001 in a 9-1 win over then-No. 6 Hawaii.

The Bears’ win represented a strong rebound performance after a 11-9 loss to No. 1 Stanford two weeks earlier at the Stanford Invitational. This is the dominant type of outing that Cal will need more of to prove that it is worthy of a No. 1 ranking and reach its championship aspiration.

Other scorers for the Bears included seniors Dóra Antal (2), Anna Illes (1) and Kindred Paul (1). Antal and Illes scored their goals in the second period to lead Cal to a 7-0 halftime lead.

Freshman Kitty Lynn Joustra and Georgia Gilmore each added a goal in the second half to add to Cal’s impressive total. Even though one goal was somewhat of a cool-down for Joustra, who scored nine goals in Cal’s four games at the Stanford Invitational, she remains tied for fourth on Cal’s scoring list this season as only a freshman.

The win against the Aggies brings the Bears’ head-to-head record this year against them to 3-0. The teams will meet once more Apr. 21.

Next weekend, the Bears will travel to UC Irvine for the annual Barbara Kalbus Invitational. They will kick off the tournament against No. 19 Cal State Northridge.

Dev Navani covers women’s water polo. Contact him at [email protected].