Courtesy: Cal Athletics
IRVINE – The No. 4 Cal women’s water polo team closed out the Barbara Kalbus Invitational on Sunday with a 9-7 wire-to-wire win over No. 3 UCLA.
It was the Golden Bears’ (12-3) first win over a top-three opponent this year and their second straight over the Bruins dating back to last season.
“We stayed true to our game plan and played very tough,” Cal head coach Coralie Simmons said. “There were some moments in the game where it could’ve swung one way or the other, but we stayed fundamentally focused, got through the adversity and battled with a strong team. We’re really excited about coming together and finishing this tournament strong.”
Ruby Swadling led the team with three goals, notching the second hat trick of her junior year. Her dagger goal with 6:45 left was the only goal for either side in the final frame.
Senior goalkeeper Isabel Williams registered a steal and four saves over the final eight minutes, stopping 14 shots for the game. It was the fourth time she’s finished with 14 or more saves since last year’s MPSF Championship third place win over the same Bruins.
Cal got out to a great start, with sophomore Jessie Rose striking first less than 90 seconds in. Senior Cecily Turner doubled the early advantage two possessions later to make it 2-0. UCLA got one back before Swadling closed the 3-1 opening quarter with her first score of the day.
The Bears didn’t let up on either side of the ball, outscoring UCLA once again in the second. All three of Cal’s goals in the period extended a two-goal lead to three, as junior Mallory Reynoso and redshirt freshmen Janna Tauscher and Claire Rowell all found the back of the net.
The Bruins fought back with a strong third quarter. Goals by Turner and Swadling extended the Bears’ advantage to 8-4, its largest of the day, but UCLA put in three goals on four possessions to make it 8-7 heading into the fourth.
From there, Cal’s defense put the game away, forcing a combination of turnovers and tough shots. The Bruins had just five shot attempts in the final period, with Williams stopping four and another going off the post.
Along with tying Turner for the team-lead with four points and two steals, Swadling also drew three exclusions.
“They have good collaboration and connectedness between them and the team,” Simmons said of Turner, Swadling and Williams. “When they’re vibing and they’re communicating well and leading this group, we function at a very high level. When they’re playing as a collective, we’re playing as a collective.”
Coming off their final nonconference tournament, the Bears now shift their focus to the start of MPSF play and a four-game homestand. Conference action begins when Cal takes on No. 7-T Arizona State next Saturday, March 4 at 1 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
No. 4 Cal 9, No. 3 UCLA 7
Cal 3 3 2 1 – 9
UCLA 1 2 4 0 – 7
Cal Goals: Ruby Swadling 3, Cecily Turner 2, Mallory Reynoso, Claire Rowell, Janna Tauscher, Jessie Rose
UCLA Goals: Anna Pearson 3, Ava Johnson 2, Lily Gess, Val Ayala
Cal Saves: Isabel Williams 14
UCLA Saves: Georgia Phillips 12