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No. 8 Bears Smother No. 16 Spartans In Home Opener

Feb 27, 2021
Junior Elli Protopapas has had an excellent start to the 2021 season.

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BERKELEY – The No. 8 Cal women's water polo team continued its early-season trend of holding opponents scoreless for long stretches, and the Golden Bears had three different players record hat tricks for the second consecutive game in a 19-8 victory over No. 16 San Jose State on Saturday.

Freshman Reagan Whitney registered a hat trick for the second game in a row while senior Georgia Gilmore and junior Elli Protopapas also tallied three goals. Cal (4-0) had 10 different players score in its first home game of the season.

After the Spartans netted the game's first goal, the Bears scored six in a row to close the first quarter. San Jose State didn't score again for nearly eight minutes. Cal eventually raced out to a 14-5 lead midway through the third period, holding the Spartans off the scoreboard for over five minutes during another stretch. San Jose St. also didn't notch a goal for the final 5:07 of the game.

"We take a lot of pride in what we do on defense," Cal head coach Coralie Simmons said. "It sets up our success on the other end of the pool as well. We have a lot of offensive minds on this team, and I wouldn't want it any other way. I want attackers who come to play. But I think we are also getting our defense well-established. We just have to hit that next notch."

The Bears came up with 11 steals, including three by Protopapas and two by Whitney and junior Carson Broad. Protopapas, a former MPSF All-Newcomer Team selection who sat out last season to train with the Greek National Team, has been terrific through the first four games with five goals, seven assists, and six steals.

"The maturity and experience she is something that just doesn't happen," Simmons said. "Experience means a lot in water polo, and she's definitely been helping out our plethora of youth and keeping them in check."

Junior Grace Raisin and sophomore Cecily Turner each added a pair of goals for the Bears while senior Cassidy Ball and sophomore Isabel Williams split time in the cage and each had four saves.

The Bears return to action next Saturday at home against No. 9 UC Santa Barbara.