Cal Prepares for Glory in Return to Spartan Invite

Kellen Freeman/Staff

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Traveling to San Jose this weekend, the Cal women's water polo team will be competing in the Spartan Invitational - and no, despite its name, the Spartan Invitational will not include an invitation to dine in hell.

The only fine dining the No. 3 Bears will be doing this weekend will take place at least an hour before they jump into the pool to meet a mélange of ranked opponents .

On Saturday, the team will face Cal State Monterey Bay and No. 19 Pacific, while Sunday will bring matches against Santa Clara and No. 16 UC Davis. There is no champion determined in the six-team tournament, which is held at the San Jose State Aquatics Center.

The first game will take place at 10 a.m., against the Broncos, with the following match against the Tigers played at 1 p.m. Sunday will have the same time schedule against the Otters and Aggies.

The opponents comprise a tougher field of teams than Cal has seen thus far.

Nevertheless, the Bears (3-0) have started their season off well, despite star veterans Emily Csikos and Stephanie Peckham sitting out the first three games with minor injuries. Last weekend gave the team's younger players an opportunity to test their mettle against weaker opponents but also showed how the team will have to adjust.

"I wasn't happy with our defense," coach Richard Corso said. "I think our goal is to try to keep the team - no matter who we're playing - to five goals and under."

Historically, the squad has dominated all of its Spartan Invitational opponents, allowing the team to fine-tune its defense for tougher opponents later in the year.

The Bears had a perfect record against those Spartan rivals last year, outscoring all four by a total margin of 78-20. Despite that impressive offensive display, Cal is more concerned about rediscovering that same level of defensive play.

Although it's still early in the season and Cal has yet to face some of its stiffer competition, Corso pointed to a particular team mindset that will have to develop outside of game time.

"Every weekend will get more difficult. You know, the quality of the competition gets a little bit higher, the level gets a little bit harder, and we'll just have to make the adjustment for that," Corso said. "The place to do that is at practice. The intensity has to be higher. All of those things."


Samuel Farahmand covers women's water polo. Contact him at [email protected]

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