Courtesy: Cal Athletics
AT SPIEKER AQUATICS COMPLEX | BERKELEY, CALIF.
SATURDAY, JAN. 27
NO. 3 CAL VS NO. 7 STANFORD | NOON PT *
NO. 3 CAL VS USA YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM | 3 P.M. PT *
SUNDAY, JAN. 28
NO. 3 CAL VS NO. 2 UCLA | 9:30 A.M. PT *
* Exhibition Game
Coming off a 3-0 opening weekend at Fresno State’s Polo-Palooza, the No. 3 California women’s water polo team will be back at Spieker Aquatics Complex for the first time this season to host the annual Cal Cup. The Golden Bears will play exhibitions against three of the four visiting teams before closing the weekend with an early-season rematch against No. 14 UC Davis on Sunday at 2 p.m. PT. Cal defeated the Aggies 13-4 in the two teams’ season opener on Jan. 20. The Bears went on to defeat then-No. 5 UC Irvine 8-6 and No. 11 Michigan 16-7. Goalkeeper Isabel Williams averaged 14.7 saves on her way to being named MPSF Player of the Week. UC Irvine transfer Elena Flynn led the team with six goals in her first three competitions as a Bear.
Powered by a balanced offensive attack and outstanding team defense, Cal held its first three opponents of the season to an average of 5.7 goals per game. The 10 goals allowed on opening day were the second-fewest the program has conceded through two games over the last nine seasons. Williams had at least 12 saves in each game, tying a career high with 18 in the Bears’ 16-7 win over Michigan. Offensively, Cal had 11 different goal scorers in its season opener against UC Davis. Flynn (6 goals), Maryn Dempsey (5) and Rozanne Voorvelt (4) led the team in scoring for the weekend.
WILLIAMS EARNS THIRD CAREER MPSF PLAYER OF THE WEEK
After capping one of her most prolific three-game stretches ever with a career high-tying 18 saves to go with against the Wolverines, Williams claimed the first MPSF Player of the Week award of the 2024 season. The win over Michigan also saw her register four steals and move to No. 4 on the program’s all-time saves list. Williams continued to build on her Cal legacy in 2023, becoming the first Bear goalkeeper to earn multiple All-MPSF First Team selections, being one of 20 players named to the prestigious Cutino Award Watch List, and earning her second straight ACWPC All-America nod. She led the MPSF in both saves (266) and steals (54), highlighted by a pair of 14-save winning efforts over UCLA.
Following its 3-0 start to the year, Cal moved into the No. 3 spot in the Collegiate Water Polo Association national rankings heading into the second weekend of competition. The Bears entered the year with a No. 4 preseason ranking. This is the 14th straight year that they began the season ranked in the top four.
FLYNN’S FLYING START
Cal’s offense has big shoes to fill this season with the departure of graduated senior Cecily Turner and the absence of Australia national team member Ruby Swadling, who is taking the year off to train for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Without their two leading goal scorers from last year, the Bears are expecting big things from two-time All-American Flynn, who got out to a great start to her Cal career with a team-best six goals in her first three games. Flynn demonstrated how dangerous she can be on the offensive end with five goals in the win over Michigan, including four in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Flynn made the NCAA All-Tournament Second Team last year with the Anteaters after finishing the season with a team-high 57 goals.
*2024 Cal Season Stats
After beginning the 2023 season with a 15-4 record, Cal went on to advance to its fifth NCAA Championship in the last six non-COVID years and finished at 19-10 overall. Highlights included a thrilling 11-10 overtime win against No. 5 Hawaii that helped get the Bears into the Barbara Kalbus Invitational third-place game, which saw them take down No. 3 UCLA 9-7. Cal later defeated UCLA 12-11 in the MPSF Championships Third-Place Game behind four goals from graduated senior Cecily Turner and a late game-winner by Claire Rowell. Williams finished with a huge 14 saves in both wins over the Bruins. Turner and Ruby Swadling ended the year with team-highs of 47 and 45 goals, respectively. Williams set a career best with an MPSF-leading 266 saves.
Dempsey (34 goals) is the team’s leading returning goalscorer, who is coming off a year in which she earned her second career All-MPSF accolade. Other notable returners include Rozanne Voorvelt (31 goals) – who helped The Netherlands take bronze at the 2022 FINA World Championship – Reagan Whitney (23), Janna Tauscher (20), Maddie DeMattia (13), and last year’s freshman standouts Abbi Magee (17) and Claire Rowell (16). DeMattia ended her junior campaign with 62 earned exclusions, good for second in the MPSF. Rowell was an All-MPSF Newcomer Team selection.
The Bears bolstered their offense with the addition of two-time All-American attacker Elena Flynn, who transferred from UC Irvine following a stellar sophomore season. In 2023, Flynn led the Anteaters with 57 goals, earning All-Big West First Team, All-America Second Team and NCAA All-Tournament Second Team honors. Cal also added seven freshmen, including USA Youth National Team member Julia Bonaguidi (The Bishop’s School/San Diego), USA Cadet Women’s Kate Meyer (San Marcos/Santa Barbara) and Team Netherlands player Feline Voordouw (Sint Joris College/Neede, Gelderland).
HALL OF FAME COACHING STAFF
Cal head coach Coralie Simmons and associate head coach Heather Petri both received significant milestone recognition in 2023. Simmons – one of the great trailblazers of the women’s water polo world who earned two NCAA Player of the Year awards and won three NCAA Championships and an Olympic silver medal with Team USA – was one of five members in the 39th induction class of the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame. Her 115 wins at Cal rank second in program history. Petri – the only four-time female Olympian in Cal Athletics history – was named to the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Joining them on the staff for the third straight year is assistant coach Lance Morrison, who played Division I water polo at Pacific.
BEARS TO HOST 2024 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
For the first time in program history, Cal women’s water polo will host the NCAA Championship at Spieker Aquatics Complex, which takes place on May 10-12.
Cal’s excelled in the classroom once again in 2023, being recognized for the largest increase in cumulative GPA (7.1%) of any Bear program. 17 players earned ACWPC All-Academic recognition, with a program record six Bears garnering outstanding status for averaging above a 3.70 GPA. Another all-time best was set with 15 Bears earning MPSF All-Academic honors.
AN AQUATIC ODYSSEY
The Bears did things a bit different leading into the 2024 season, training and building team camaraderie over the course of a very special 12-day excursion to Greece. Learn more about the trip here.