Stacked Stanford Invite Lineup to Test Bears

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At the Stanford Women's Water Polo Invitational this weekend, the unbeaten No. 3 Cal women's water polo team will partake in NCAA water polo's baptism by fire.

With teams that account for nine of the last 10 NCAA champions, all 10 of this past decade's national runners-up and all five of this year's top-5 ranked teams, the Bears will be in for a true test of their team's abilities.

Cal (7-0) takes its impressive record into a star-studded slate of opponents at the Avery Aquatic Center in Stanford Calif., where it will play games against seven-time NCAA champion No. 4 UCLA and No. 15 Indiana on Saturday followed by a match against No. 5 Hawaii on Sunday.

If the Bears advance, then they would most likely play either No. 1 Stanford or No. 2 USC later on that evening.

"It's pretty tough," sophomore driver Breda Vosters said of the world-class competition. "But we've been preparing pretty well and as long as we stay focused and just work on what we've been doing in practice, we should be right up there with them and give them a good challenge."

By most indications, Cal is ready to face the nation's brass - they're coming off a 13-5 shellacking of then-No. 16 UC Davis last weekend. In the culminating game of the Bears' 4-0 performance at the Spartan Open, Vosters, a Canadian junior national team product, continued her scorching offensive output this season, tallying five goals against the Aggies.

"Mostly it's been my teammates," Vosters said of her scoring streak. "I plan on making things happen on my own, but we're just following the game plan and I happen to be in good position a lot of the time and my teammates get me the ball."

However, Vosters, the team's leading scorer with 18 goals, is not the only Cal player coming into the weekend on a tear. This season the Bears have scored more than 10 goals in every game and have outscored their opponents 109-27.

It's an impressive stat that Cal still downplays.

"The early games have all been warm-up games preparing for this weekend," associate head coach Matt Flesher said. "So after this weekend we'll have a very good sense of where we stand."

With the hyper-competitive pursuit of NCAA tournament berths (a tournament in which the Bears advanced to the semifinals last year) looming in the near future, this weekend will be a pivotal testing ground of the team's talent and grit.

In fact, seven out of eight teams in the invitational are future MPSF opponents, giving it a rare peek at its upcoming conference foes.

"This is just as important as the season," Vosters said. "If we do really well in this we'll be in a good position to advance in the postseason.

"This is a final within the start."


Contact Chris Haugh at [email protected]

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