After last week’s narrow loss to UCLA and dropping its second straight game, California women’s water polo needed to regain the sense of prestige that its No. 4 ranking indicates. Against San Jose State’s No. 12 on Saturday, the Bears reclaimed that position in no time. Holding the Spartans scoreless in the first half, Cal’s defense dominated the day en route to a convincing 7-point victory.
Once again, junior Isabel Williams put in a huge effort, making several tough saves throughout the game. His goalie, one of the best in the MPSF, quickly set the tone for the game, allowing the Bears offense to take a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Unfortunately for SJSU, who now sit at 10-10 (0-3 MPSF), little change in the second half. The Spartans were unable to score a goal until 5:57 when the score was already 7-0 for the Bears. Despite a sustained short run from the Spartans to cut the lead to 8-4 midway through the final period and provide momentary hope of a comeback, Cal’s talent proved too much.
Senior Emma Wright and second student Ruby Swadling had hat tricks while contributing to a 4-1 run in California to end the game and a dominating 12-5 victory.
Cal was able to rely on his talent to overwhelm the lower-ranked Spartans, but the Bears were not without their mistakes. The blue-and-gold struggled with several errant turnovers, a slow start on offense and a whopping 15 dismissal penalties.
Even with the win, Cal head coach Coralie Simmons noted the Bears have room to grow.
“Our fundamentals are a bit defensive; we have to play better positional defense, and we have to be able to make adjustments throughout the game – and I think we haven’t,” Simmons said. “(But they) showed some glimpses of improvement in some categories.”
After leaving Spieker with their first MPSF win of the season, the Bears will need to maintain their momentum and improvement. Cal ends March with a two-week road trip that includes 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 the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe on Friday, March 18 at 1 p.m.
Ryan Sheehan covers women’s water polo. Contact him at [email protected].