Bears Bowl Over Princeton

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One-by-one, the pins have been falling.

UC Davis, Occidental, and UCSB were the first to be bowled down. USC and Stanford were a bit more stubborn, but followed suit. Then Davis fell again, before Pacific, UMass, and San Jose State were knocked off their rockers.

And yesterday, the Cal women's water polo team had a chance to knock down that final pin to complete its strike. In order to do so, it had to defeat another team that has been right on target this season.

No problem. Mission accomplished. Go ahead and put an "X" down on the score sheet for the Bears.

That stubborn pin that always seems the remain standing turned out to be not much of a problem. Cal blew No. 11 Princeton right out of Spieker Pool yesterday afternoon, handing the Tigers a 13-6 loss and earning their 10th consecutive win.

The Tigers were already licking their fresh wounds after suffering their first defeat of the season yesterday to UC Davis, but the No. 1 Bears showed no mercy.

"We came out very well," Cal coach Peter Asch said. "I'm pleased with the way we played defense, and our counterattack was going very well. Our first couple groups were shooting on target, and we played all 20 players, so that was good."

The Bears (14-2, 2-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) stormed out of the gates, overpowering the Tigers with a five-goal first quarter. Using an aggressive counterattack, Cal turned its solid defensive plays into a number of offensive opportunities.

Sophomore Breena Fleener added another tally when she converted on a penalty shot to start off the second before the Tigers (9-2) finally countered with a somewhat controversial goal with 3:32 left in the half.

Princeton freshman Adele McCarthy's shot hit the post and fell to Cal goalie Fana Fuqua's right - and according to officials, it mustered just enough to cross the goal line.

After Asch inserted reserves into the lineup in the second half, the Tigers scored five more times, managing to crack what had been an unbreakable Cal defense. McCarthy ended the game on a strong note for the Tigers, aggressively charging up the pool and scoring with 30 seconds left.

"We had better defense in the first half than the second," Asch said. "We gave them too many shots, and they're a good team. Some of our (reserve) players should have played better defense. They need to prove that they belong in the first group."

Although Princeton had the momentum to start off the fourth, the Bears countered with three of their own tallies - two by sophomore Shelly Johnston and one by freshman Megan Ricks - to put an end to any hopes of a close game.

The Bears' seven-goal second half, coupled with a 6-1 halftime lead, proved to be too much for the Tigers to surmount.

"We can't get down, 5-0, and expect to have any success," Princeton coach Luis Nicolao said. "We made a lot of mistakes that contributed to easy goals the other way. Cal's a better team and we have to improve in taking care of the ball better."

For a team that came into California unbeaten and with its own nine-game winning streak, this four-game swing is turning out to be a learning experience for the Tigers.

"We did a better job today," said Nicolao. "There's a different level of aggressiveness out here, and it takes a little to adjust to. We're here to learn, and we keep getting better with every game."

As for the Bears, who host No. 10 Long Beach State and No. 9 San Diego State this weekend in two MPSF matches, their confidence is continuing to build with each game.

"We're playing well as a team and we're in good shape," junior Beth Irwin said. "We just need to put on the finishing touches. Right now our confidence is up, and that's really important since a large part of the game is mental."


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