After last week’s narrow loss against UCLA and dropping its second straight game, Cal women’s water polo needed to regain the sense of prestige that its No. 4 ranking indicates. Against No. 12 San Jose State on Saturday, the Bears recaptured that standing in short order. By holding the Spartans scoreless in the first half, Cal’s defense owned the day en route to a convincing 7-point victory.
Once again, junior Isabel Williams turned in a tremendous effort, making several difficult saves throughout the game. Her goalkeeping, among the best in the MPSF, quickly set the tone for the game, allowing the Bears’ offense to ease into a 3-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Unfortunately for SJSU, which now stands at an even 10-10 (0-3 MPSF), little changed in the second half. The Spartans were unable to notch a goal until the 5:57 mark when the score was already 7-0 for the Bears. Despite a short sustained run by the Spartans to cut the lead to 8-4 midway through the final period and provide momentary hope for a comeback, Cal’s talent proved to be too much.
Senior Emma Wright and sophomore Ruby Swadling were able to complete hat tricks while contributing to a 4-1 Cal run to end the match and dominant 12-5 victory.
Cal was able to rely on its talent to overwhelm the lower-ranked Spartans, but the Bears were not without their miscues. The blue and gold struggled with several errant turnovers, a sluggish start on offense and a whopping 15 exclusion penalties.
Even with the win, Cal head coach Coralie Simmons noted that the Bears have room to grow.
“Our fundamentals are a little bit off defensively; we have got to play better position defense, and we have to be able to make adjustments throughout the game — and I think we didn’t do that,” Simmons said. “(But they) showed some glimpses of improvement in certain categories.”
After leaving Spieker with their first MPSF win of the season, the Bears will need to keep the momentum and their improvement going. Cal ends March with a two-week road trip that features matchups against No. 10 Arizona State, No. 7 Michigan and No. 15 Indiana.
Catch the Bears’ next game against Arizona State on Pac-12.com or at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe on Friday, March 18, at 1 p.m.