No. 5 Bears Defeat No. 8 Michigan To Open Season
TEMPE, Ariz. – Three-time All-American and 2020 Dutch Olympian Kitty Lynn Joustra scored four goals and Emma Wright added a hat trick in her return after a two-year layoff, and the No. 5 Cal women's water polo team turned back No. 8 Michigan 12-8 on Friday morning on the first day of the season-opening Cross Conference Challenge at Arizona State's Mona Plummer Aquatic Center.
Cal dominated the Wolverines for much of the morning, rolling out to a 9-2 lead with 5:51 left in the third quarter. The Bears still held an 11-4 advantage with just over two minutes remaining in the third before Michigan inched closer.
Junior Cecily Turner and sophomore Ruby Swadling each also added two goals for Cal, while junior goalie Isabel Williams made nine saves. It was also Swadling's first game for Cal since being named to the MPSF All-Newcomer Team and earning All-MPSF honorable mention as a freshman in 2020.
Wright, also a three-time All-American and 2020 Olympian for Canada, missed both the 2020 and 2021 seasons for Cal while she trained with the Canadian National Team. Friday marked her first game for the Bears since the semifinals of the 2019 NCAA Championship, a span of 986 days.
"I definitely had some nerves going into my first official game back as a Cal Bear," Wright said. "I wanted to start my final season off on a good note, and I think we did exactly that. I'm very excited for this season."
Swadling added three steals, two field blocks and an assist while Turner had two steals, an assist and a field block.
The Bears started quickly, scoring the game's first three goals – with two coming from Wright – in less than three minutes. After the Wolverines cut the lead to 4-2 early in the second quarter, Cal scored five in a row to take command.
"We wanted to come out strong and sustain our mental and physical toughness for as many quarters as possible," said head coach Coralie Simmons, who commenced her sixth season at Cal on Friday. "It's a good start to an exciting year of water polo. We have room to grow and an edge to sharpen."
Cal resumes play in the Cross Conference Challenge on Saturday with games against No. 4 Arizona State and No. 10 Fresno State.