The Bears have been making waves in the water polo world, and they continued their dominance over the weekend with impressive victories over Harvard and Indiana University. In a thrilling matchup between these top teams, the Bears faced off against the Harvard Crimson in a nonconference game Wednesday afternoon, only to go back into game mode to face Indiana on Saturday.
From the opening whistle, the first quarter was dominated by Cal, which managed to score six unanswered goals to take a commanding 6-0 lead. Harvard’s offense struggled to find any openings against California’s tough defense, and the Bears’ offense continued to impress with its speed and precision passing.
The Crimson came out strong in the next two quarters, narrowing the gap to 6-10. Harvard continued to battle hard, but the Bears were able to maintain their lead throughout the rest of the quarter.
In the final quarter, Harvard mounted a late comeback, scoring three goals to cut Cal’s lead. But the Bears’ defense held strong, and the offense scored three more goals to put the game out of reach. The final score was 13-9, Cal.
The Bears were led by attacker Ruby Swadling, who finished with three goals and a hat trick on the day. Cal’s defense was also outstanding, holding the Crimson to just nine goals despite their best efforts.
After Harvard, the Bears faced Indiana in what was a thrilling matchup between two talented squads in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, or MPSF, conference, and Cal’s second home game of the week. Head coach Coralie Simmons noted how these home games are very useful when it comes to preparing for the championship portion of the season, including the MPSF championship later this spring.
“It is nice being here with our fans. It is a way for us to work on new things, from preparing a lot for USC, being able to shift gears with two very different teams,” Simmons said. “The team was excited to have some home cooking and that will also give us some momentum going to Hawaii where we are going to see some big games.”
Moving on to Indiana, Cal came out strong with each side displaying impressive skill and athleticism in the water. The first quarter was a back-and-forth battle, with neither team able to gain a significant advantage. After Cal scored the opening goal, the Hoosiers responded by scoring two goals in the first quarter of the game to take an early lead of 2-1.
The second quarter saw a surge of energy from Indiana, who managed to stay in the game at 3-4. However, the Bears responded with a goal of their own to grab the lead in the third quarter. The teams continued to trade goals throughout the next two quarters, with Cal’s biggest lead being 8-4.
The fourth quarter was a true test of wills. In the end, it was Cal’s defense that proved to be the difference maker, as it managed to hold off Indiana’s late surge and secure a hard-fought 9-7 victory.
The Bears were led by their star player of the game, redshirt freshman attacker Claire Rowell, who finished with four goals and the first-ever hat trick of her career.
With the MPSF conference title up for grabs later this season, Cal will look to build on these wins as it continues its season.