This season brought No. 2 Cal women’s water polo its best start in 13 years. It was looking as if the Bears were on their way to surpassing their legendary 2009 season, where their standing was 14-0, but that feat was challenged Saturday, Feb. 19, at the MPSF opener when the Trojans stripped the blue and gold of their undefeated standing.
Cal now floats with one loss, turning its overall record to 11-1, 0-1 MPSF.
The Trojans had earned just the right amount of momentum to bounce back from their loss last week against their rival UCLA.
The first period of the game between Cal women’s water polo and USC was quite even. Sophomore Mallory Reynoso, junior Shea Salvino and junior Cecily Turner each scored once for the Bears. Both USC and Cal evenly traded off in scoring goals through the entire duration of the first seven minutes, each team treading the water with solid expertise.
Cal junior Isabel Williams was as swift as ever in defending her net, stealing the ball from her opponents a total of four times.
Similar to Cal’s Emma Wright —who returned after two years of training with Team Canada for the Tokyo Summer Olympics, USC too has an Olympian: Paige Hauschild, who also has returned after two years in preparation for the Olympic Games with Team USA. Both teams were equipped with powerful players.
Wright and Kitty Lynn Joustra are two of these many players. Just this season alone, their individual goals have a combined total of 41for the Bears. Joustra, a senior who has played in every game this season, contributed to Cal’s final score with two goals of her own and an assist.
USC gained a five-goal advantage in the second half of the game. The Trojans impressed with four back-to-back goals against the Bears.
The game was fought with utter determination and relentlessness. USC continued to widen its advantage and played incredibly well defensively — protecting its goalie from having to brave many of Cal’s shots. The score at halftime was 8-5 USC.
The Bears were only able to sneak two goals, both made by All-American Wright, the rest of the game.
USC found the back of the net six more times than Cal did, which was the third time in the past 10 years where the Trojans had such a lead against the Bears. By the time the water stilled, it was a 7-13 plummet for Cal.
Nonetheless, the Bears gave the Trojans a fight, but at the end of the day, it was No. 3 USC who emerged from the waters with an impressive win against No. 2 Cal.
Fans shouldn’t hold their breath, though, because the Bears haven’t sunk their season yet. They are headed to UC Irvine’s hosted Barbara Kalbus Invitational where they will first battle No. 21 San Diego State on Friday, Feb. 25. Fans will see if Cal can waste no sweat to stay above water.