Polo Needs No Luck In Pair of Victories

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A four-leaf clover might have helped.

But then again, with the way the Cal women's water polo team has been playing, a single clover probably wouldn't have done the trick for Long Beach State and San Diego State this past St. Patrick's Day weekend. They needed a whole field full of them.

Perhaps then they would've had more success in unseating the No. 1 Bears.

But instead, as luck would have it, both the 49ers and Aztecs fell to their host at Spieker Pool. No. 9 SDSU dropped a 5-1 decision to Cal Saturday, while No. 10 LBSU lost to the Bears Friday, 11-6.

"This victory was something we needed, especially with bigger games next week and tournaments coming up," said Bears two-meter player Julia Cesnik after Saturday's game against the Aztecs.

The matchup against SDSU proved to be a defensive battle, with both teams unable to find the back of the net early.

For the first time this season, the Bears were shut out in the first quarter. And while Cal (16-2, 4-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) kept the Aztecs (6-9, 3-3 in the MPSF) off the scoresheets as well, SDSU had better opportunities. The Aztecs forced a couple turnovers and got some good shots off, most notably junior Kelly Palcone's turnaround attempt that hit the crossbar. This bit of luck and strong goaltending from Fana Fuqua kept the score deadlocked at zero heading into the second quarter.

"We came out ready to play, but we weren't that aggressive," Cal coach Peter Asch said. "San Diego State was outhustling us. Our offense was off today, but the defense carried the team - we shut them down."

The Bears finally solved Curran Teigan 30 seconds into the second quarter when Cal two-meter player Christen Razzari got a shot past SDSU's goalie. Less than a minute later, the sophomore added another tally when she lobbed the ball just high enough out of Teigan's reach.

Sophomore driver Brooke Spittler got the second half started on the right foot, outsprinting SDSU to the ball and bouncing a shot off the water and into the net. Cal padded its lead when senior Colette Grinkowski converted on a penalty shot to to build the Bears' lead to 4-0.

The Aztecs' only goal of the game came off of freshman Heidi Matsumoto's goal on a penalty shot in the fourth.

Compared to Saturday's low-scoring contest, Friday's game was an all-out shooting gallery.

Cal snipers Glinkowski, senior Kaliya Young and sophomore Julie Arnold each had three goals apiece against LBSU's Candice Chick. Junior Beth Irwin and sophomore Breena Fleener rounded out the scoring for the afternoon.

"Cal is one of the top teams - they have top speed and are well-coached," LBSU coach Rick Azevedo said. "We made a couple mistakes and ran out of gas, but when we play with a team like Cal, we have to be happy with what we see."

The 49ers (9-11, 1-5 in the MPSF) put forth a valiant effort in the second half, and even closed the gap to three goals when senior Elizabeth Garcia put a penalty shot past Fuqua two minutes into the third quarter.

"Long Beach is a very scrappy team," Asch said. "We got up 7-2, but they didn't quit, came back and scored."

Although the 49ers couldn't upset the Bears, LBSU's coach was pleased with his young team's play - it matched Cal by scoring four goals in the second half.

"We did some good things against Cal," Azevedo said. "We have 16 girls who are redshirting, so I told them (at the half) that this is for the future and to forget about the mistakes. And it showed in the second half - we came out even."

With these two MPSF victories, the Bears continued their winning ways. Cal's streak is now at 12 games, and the Bears will be aiming for 13 when they take on USC Friday.


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