The No. 6 Cal women’s water polo team put up a good fight against the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal in a tough game on Senior Day on Saturday. Despite their best efforts, the Bears were unable to get closer than 16-9 to their Bay Area rivals.
The highlight of the Bears’ last game of the regular season came when senior Cecily Turner scored a dazzling hat trick in front of a rowdy home crowd at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Junior attacker Maryn Dempsey scored two goals of her own while also making nine saves and stealing three balls. Senior goalie Isabel Williams made nine saves and stole three balls.
“We worked really hard as a team. We always get excited for rival games,” Williams said. “We just have to make sure that we’re working hard to keep that energy up through the whole game because that is a strong opponent. They definitely gave us a challenge.”
After falling behind early 2-0, the Bears got on the board thanks to a blast from the outside by senior Shea Salvino. Salvino capitalized on a sluggish defensive effort by Stanford and made the most of the power play. Junior Mara Loughlin earned a second early exclusion on Cardinal star player Jewel Roemer on the very next play, which allowed the Bears to gain an advantage.
The Bears played the ball around until redshirt junior attacker Ruby Swadling assisted Turner with a fast goal to tie the score. This goal energized not only the squad but also the Bears’ supporters who were watching.
The Cardinal started the second quarter on a run that would end with them up three goals, but the Bears rallied back. At the 2:55 mark of the quarter, redshirt freshman center Janna Tauscher shut down her defender to accept a ball inside and slipped one over the surface of the water into the near right post. This brought the score to 5-3 in favor of Stanford going into the halftime break.
In the third period, Dempsey scored twice, the first of which came on the power play and the second of which came when she scored during transition. Turner’s fantastic backhand goal in the third that sailed into the top of the net was the highlight of the day.
Swadling missed a shot that bounced off the crossbar in the waning seconds of the quarter, but it was deflected directly to sophomore Maddie DeMattia who scored from in front of the goal, sending Cal into the fourth quarter behind 12-8.
Despite the fact that the Cardinal controlled the final period, Turner was able to complete her season with a team-leading seventh hat trick by scoring on a 6-on-5 power play in the middle of the fourth quarter.
The Bears will now focus their attention on the MPSF Championships, which will be held by San Jose State University from April 28-30. Salvino noted the team is looking forward to participating in potentially the final tournament of the season.
“I am really excited, to be quite honest, because our team culture has been really good this year. We have definitely had a lot of fun,” Salvino said. “Although it is bittersweet and a weird feeling, it’s really fun to be able to spend the season with the team that we have now. It makes for an exciting MPSF tournament to come.”
The fourth-seeded Bears will play the fifth-seeded Hoosiers on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the quarterfinal round.