Cal Ready for Break Against Aggies at Home

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To say that the Cal women's water polo team has momentum on its side as it heads into Friday's home opener may be a bit of an understatement.

The Bears (9-2) are coming off a 4-0 weekend in which they not only captured the Santa Barbara Women's Tournament title, but did so in dramatic fashion - Cal upset No. 2 USC en route to an overtime victory over No. 4 Stanford in the finals.

It's enough to make any team sit back confidently and consider a match-up against UC Davis to be a breather.

After all, the previous two meetings with the Aggies (7-7) were pretty much a walk in the park for the No. 3 Bears. They handed Davis a 7-2 loss at the San Diego Invitational before marching into the Aggies' home pool and notching a 10-5 victory.

But Cal knows better than to take tomorrow's 4 p.m. match-up too lightly. No. 8 Davis is coming to Spieker Aquatics Complex fresh off of its best tournament finish in years, making a victory no easy task for the Bears.

"It's difficult to beat a team three times in a row," Cal coach Peter Asch said. "They played extremely well at the UCSB tournament and placed fifth. They'll be coming in with a fair amount of momentum on Friday."

After losing the first game, the young Aggies team finished last weekend's tournament on a strong note, winning the rest of its three matches.

Standout freshman Tiffany Hodgens, who leads Davis with 25 goals this season, catapulted the team to a victory over San Jose State with a sudden-death score, and senior Lenelle Dorfi scored three in the fifth-place game to down Hawaii.

While the Bears may have their hands full with Hodgens, Cal boasts a number of players who will keep the Aggies on their toes. Several Bears had strong outings at the UCSB Invite, most notably sophomore Julia Cesnik. She earned Mountain Pacific Federation Player of the Week honors after leading the team with two hat tricks in Sunday's games.

According to Asch, this honor could have gone to a handful of Bears.

"They could've named any one of about four or five different Cal players to MPSF Player of the Week and it would've been justified," the coach said. "We played well as a team and no one stood out more than anyone else."

Davis will certainly be keeping an eye out not only for Cesnik, but for junior Beth Irwin and senior Colette Glinkowski, who scorched the Aggies with three goals each in the teams' previous matches.

Confident of their abilities and having proven their caliber of play, the biggest challenge the Bears now have is to keep their focus going in to Friday's game.

"They know they're good enough to win those games," said Asch of his players. "But they can't take anything for granted, because Davis is a good team and will come out prepared to play."

After Friday's bout with the Aggies, the Bears will head to Stockton, Calif., where they'll duke it out at noon Saturday with No. 14 Pacific. The Tigers (2-3) cruised by Occidental, 12-4, in the 13th-place game in Santa Barbara.

Yet, putting records and past match-ups aside, Asch stressed the importance of maintaining the mental preparation that propelled them to success in last weekend's intense tournament.

"We played well, played hard, and had to concentrate because we had four games in less than 48 hours," he said. "We need to continue working hard and stay mentally focused because anything can happen against these teams."


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