No. 2 Bears look to defend undefeated streak against USC

Photo of Cal women's water polo
Hsi-Min Chan/Staff

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As a result of its streak of successful wins, Cal women’s water polo team has earned its way up the rankings to No. 2.

The Bear’s 11-0 overall record has earnt the women’s water polo team its best start in 13 years. Cal will be heading down to Southern California on Saturday, Feb. 19, where it will face one of its greatest challenges: No. 3 USC.

The Bears have already impressed with their wins over many teams — eight of which are ranked in the top 10.

Thus far, Cal has come first in each of its first three tournaments: the Cross Country Challenge, the Cal Cup and the Stanford Invitational. Following the Cal Cup, the Bears were ranked No. 4. Since then, the undefeated team has earned its spot as No. 2 — stripping Stanford of its No. 2 ranking with a victory over the Cardinal. This was the first win for Cal over the Cardinal since 2018.

Prior to its next tournament — the Barbara Kalbus Invitational — Cal women’s water polo must go head-to-head with USC, who, at the start of this season, had the position of No. 2. The game against USC is the first of the MPSF games of this season.

Their No. 2 ranking is the best ranking the Bears have had in four seasons.

Cal has been dominant this season, outscoring its competition 138-75 so far.

Following her memorable goal scored against Stanford within the first minute of overtime, which led the Bears into a sudden victory, freshman Jessie Rose was bestowed with MPSF Newcomer of the Week honors. Junior goalie Isabel Williams earned the MPSF Player of the Week as tribute to her memorable 13.7 saves on average per game.

Number 21 Emma Wright is another player to keep an eye out for in the water.

Returning after two years training with the Canadian National Team and competing in the Tokyo Olympics, the senior is significantly contributing to the Bear’s success this year. Just in this season alone, Wright has scored 24 goals — boosting her career total to 178.

Wright is on her way to placing within the top five of Cal’s all-time scoring list for women’s water polo.

The Bears are relentless in their commitment to excellence — but, do they have what it takes to also defeat No. 3 USC, a team recognized as one of the very best?

Tune in to watch both teams battle for a win on the Pac-12 Network on Saturday, Feb. 19.

Cassandra Maciel-Hernandez women’s water polo. Contact her at [email protected].