Cardinal Sink Bears to Round Out MPSF Tourney

Photo: Stephanie Schnugg and the Cal water polo team struggled in two losses this weekend. The Bears now await a postseason announcement.
Kellen Freeman/File
Stephanie Schnugg and the Cal water polo team struggled in two losses this weekend. The Bears now await a postseason announcement.

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Correction Appended

Ranked third in the nation, the Cal women's water polo team should be fairly confident about making its first NCAA championships appearance ever.

"We're most likely going to play Michigan," senior Remy Champion said. "It's going to be like a new season for us."

Considering how the 'old' season concluded, the Bears' new one probably can't come soon enough.

Cal (24-8, 4-3 in the MPSF) settled for its second consecutive fourth-place finish in the conference tournament after Sunday's 10-3 rout at the hands of top-ranked Stanford. Hoping to rebound from its upset loss to UCLA, the Cardinal scored the first four goals of the game and never looked back.

"The level we played today was completely unacceptable," Champion said. "We just came out pretty flat. We weren't communicating well and made too many mistakes on defense."

Kelly Eaton and Melissa Seidemann were the beneficiaries of Cal's miscues. After containing Stanford's two leading scorers during the season-ending Big Splash, the Bears allowed each of them to break out for a hat trick at Spieker Aquatic Center.

The Cardinal (23-1, 7-0) found the net with regularity and Cal's own attack did little to respond. The team committed double-digit turnovers and a season-low offensive output.

"Everyone kind of tried to win thegame by themselves, but it was just one game," Dana Ochsner said. "Everyone was tired from playing USC."

Indeed, the Bears felt that their set-back against the Cardinal was a physical and emotional hangover from a hard-fought 9-7 loss against the No. 2 Trojans. Sophomore Emily Csikos tallied three of her game-high four goals in the first half against the Women of Troy-including buzzer beaters to end both the first and second quarters.

"Emily played really great," Champion said. "She was really aggressive with her shooting. As long as she puts up shots between the bars, there's a good chance they'll go in."

Csikos' effort helped the Bears hold a 5-4 advantage at the break, but the initial lead would soon vanish.

In a flurry that mirrored Stanford's fireworks on Sunday, USC (22-2, 6-1 in the MPSF) took control quickly with a 3-0 shutout in the third quarter.

Kally Lucas, Kami Craig, and Dominique Sardo all struck within the opening two minutes of the half. The Trojans' run proved to be the difference-maker, as Cal only cut its deficit to one in the final period.

"We had a couple of bad passes which gave them some counter opportunities," Champion said. "But we played really well except those three minutes. We need to put a strong four quarters together and can't have any lapses."

Tags: CAL WOMEN'S WATER POLO, RICHARD CORSO, EMILY CSIKOS

Correction: Thursday, May 6, 2010
A previous version of this article stated it was the team's first NCAA appearance since 2000. The national championships have only been governed by the NCAA since 2001.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Ed Yevelev at [email protected]



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