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No. 4 Cal can’t overcome slow start, falls to No. 6 UCI 13-14 in overtime

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CAROLINE LOBEL | STAFF

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APRIL 04, 2022

In its first game in Berkeley in over two weeks, Cal women’s water polo found itself in a back and forth fight against UC Irvine. The Bears struggled to gain any momentum for most of the game. Though a comeback in the final quarter forced overtime, the Anteaters pulled away for good to secure a 14-13 win. Emma Wright, Shea Salvino and Lily Turner each had a hat trick but did not match a career-high seven goals from UCI senior Tara Prentice.

The match started out with the Bears and Anteaters on equal footing and a 3-3 tie after the first quarter. The first half was a hectic scramble for control that was full of breakaways, turnovers, quick transitions and even more five-on-six exclusion situations.

Despite the chaos, the offense for Cal was unable to capitalize, and had another slow start. The Bears only managed four goals to UCI’s six before goaltender Isabel Williams came out of the net to score at the very end of the second quarter.

UCI tried its best to pull away in the second half, but junior Turner found the back of the net twice late in the third period to keep the Bears within striking distance, down 10-8 heading into the fourth. And though the blue and gold were down three goals with 3:30 left, more heroics from Turner and Wright forced overtime as they tied the game at 12 apiece.

“We wanted to play for each other on Senior Day, so that was huge in sparking the comeback,” Turner said. “Emma (Wright) had a great game as well, her game-tying shot was very clutch.”

In the extra periods, though, UCI’s Prentice took the game over again with her sixth and seventh goals to escape Berkeley with a win.

In such a tight game, especially through the first half, both teams squandered opportunities to create separation.

Cal coach Coralie Simmons took notice of the Bears’ offensive woes.

“We came into the game a little bit hesitant offensively,” Simmons said. “And although there was some growth offensively as the game progressed, there were also some opportunities we missed early in the game.”

Simmons was proud of the way her team fought back in the second half, but there were some clear areas of improvement for the Bears. The defense, typically a point of strength for Cal, succumbed to the constant pressure of exclusions, inconsistent offense and errant turnovers.

“Obviously, we can’t let (UCI’s) number 23 score seven goals,”  Simmons said bluntly about the Bears’ defense.

Despite the loss, Cal still holds one of the better records in the MPSF at 3-2. With the season winding down and two weeks to prepare for their next game, the Bears have a chance to make strides in the pool and make some noise as a rivalry showdown with Stanford and postseason tournaments approach.

Senior Day against UCI marked the final home game of the season for Cal. The No. 4 Bears travel to Avery Aquatic Center at Stanford on April 16 to face the No. 1 Cardinal on Pac-12 Network.

Ryan Sheehan covers women’s water polo. Contact him at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

APRIL 04, 2022


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