No. 5 Bears Begin Season With Tough Assignment
CROSS CONFERENCE CHALLENGE
AT MONA PLUMMER AQUATIC CENTER, TEMPE, ARIZ.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 21
NO. 5 CAL VS. NO. 8 MICHIGAN | 9 A.M. PT
SATURDAY, JANUARY 22
NO. 5 CAL VS. NO. 4 ARIZONA STATE | 9 A.M. PT
NO. 5 CAL VS. NO. 10 FRESNO STATE | 2:15 P.M. PT
SUNDAY, JANUARY 22
NO. 5 CAL VS. NO. 7 UC IRVINE | 9 A.M. PT
The No. 5 Cal women's water polo team isn't exactly easing into the 2022 season. The Golden Bears will be tested immediately when they face four top-10 opponents at this weekend's Cross Conference Challenge at Arizona State University. Cal opens play Friday against No. 8 Michigan before taking on No. 4 ASU and No. 10 Fresno State on Saturday. The Bears then close out the weekend with a tilt against No. 7 UC Irvine on Sunday. Cal was scheduled to open the season last weekend at home against Cal State East Bay but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols within the CSU East Bay program.
SHE'S (FINALLY) BACK
For the first time in 986 days, All-American and 2020 Olympian Emma Wright will play in a game for the Bears this weekend. Wright took the last two seasons off to train with Team Canada in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics before returning to campus in the fall. Wright's last appearance in a Cal cap came in the semifinals of the 2019 NCAA Championships. Wright has been named an ACWPC All-American in each of her first three seasons at Cal and enters the 2022 campaign ranked ninth on the program's all-time scoring list with 154 career goals.
Emma Wright and fellow senior Kitty Lynn Joustra each competed in the Tokyo Olympics last summer, wtih Joustra and The Netherlands taking sixth place and Wright and Team Canada placing seventh. Wright was also captain of the Canadian team. The Bears also had four alumni at the Summer Games, including Roser Tarrago (Spain), Anna Illes (Hungary), Kindred Paul (Canada) and Kelly McKee (Canada). Tarrago won the silver medal while Illes took home a bronze.
Sophomore attacker Ruby Swadling returns to the Bears this season after opting out of the 2021 campaign. Swadling had an impressive freshman campaign in 2020, earning All-MPSF honorable mention and a spot on the MPSF All-Newcomer Team. Swadling led Cal with 16 steals as a freshman while also adding 12 goals and 15 assists.
TAKING THE FIFTH
Utility Georgia Gilmore decided to take advantage of the NCAA waiver granting student-athletes an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19 and is back in Berkeley for a fifth season. Gilmore appeared to be a big part of the team's plans last year before an injury cut short her season after just four games. Gilmore, an outstanding student who has twice earned ACWPC All-Academic Excellent recognition, is enrolled in the Berkeley Extension Certificate Program in Business Administration.
The Bears were buoyed by extensive production by their freshman last season, as first-year players combined for 61 of the team's 216 total goals. Maryn Dempsey and Reagan Whitney were each named to the MPSF All-Newcomer Team, as the Bears were one of only two conference squads to have more than one selection to the team. Whitney, Mallory Reynoso and Maddie DeMattia also each earned MPSF Newcomer of the Week honors.
IN WITH THE NEW (AND OLD)
Cal's coaching staff is a mix of veteran and new faces as four-time Olympian Heather Petri returns as a full-time assistant while Lance Morrison joins the Bears as well. Petri has spent time as both a full-time and volunteer assistant during head coach Coralie Simmons' six-year tenure at Cal, while Morrison comes to the Bears after a successful run as the head coach at prep powerhouse Miramonte High School. Petri was a two-time All-American as a student-athlete at Cal and went on to become the only four-time female Olympian in Cal history. She's also a four-time Olympic medalist, with a gold, two silvers and a bronze.
ABOUT NO. 8 MICHIGAN
• SR Utility Maddy Steere is a three-time ACWPC All-American
• Maddie O'Reilly was named the CWPA Player of the Year last season
• JR Grace Harbaugh is the daughter of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh
• CAL ALL-TIME VS. MICHIGAN: 14-2
ABOUT NO. 4 ARIZONA STATE
• The Sun Devils have their highest preseason ranking in program history
• GR Amira Van Buren and SO Luca Petovary are each ACWPC All-Americans
• ASU lost two-time All-American Bente Rogge to graduation
• CAL ALL-TIME VS. ARIZONA STATE: 27-10
ABOUT NO. 10 FRESNO STATE
• Bulldogs made their first NCAA Championship appearance in program history last season
• FSU returns All-Americans Emily Nicholson and Daphne Guevremont this season
• Natalie Benson was named the GCC Coach of the Year in 2021
• CAL ALL-TIME VS. FRESNO STATE: 5-0
ABOUT NO. 7 UC IRVINE
• Anteaters were picked to win the Big West championship in a preseason poll
• UCI returns three-time All-American Tara Prentice this season
• Anteaters lost All-American goalie Morgan Jones to graduation
• CAL ALL-TIME VS. UC IRVINE: 20-3