When a team goes on the road and loses to the team ranked second in the nation, sometimes the best thing to do is try to focus on the positives.
Unfortunately for the San Diego State water polo team, this is all it could do Saturday afternoon as the Aztecs fell short in a tough battle against conference opponent Cal, 15-12, in Berkeley.
“All in all, I’m pretty happy with our effort,” head coach Carin Crawford said after the loss. “To put up 12 goals against the No. 2 team in the nation and play them to a three-goal loss at their home … I thought we played well. From that standpoint, I was pleased.”
The Aztecs were successful early on in setting the tempo of the game. A goal from senior Sarah Brady with three seconds left on the clock put SDSU up 4-3 at the end of the first quarter. After a back-and-forth second period that included a goal from junior Meaghan Poland and another from Brady, the Aztecs found themselves down 6-7 at halftime, but still within striking distance. Unfortunately, SDSU wouldn’t see another lead in the match as the Golden Bears’ offensive power proved too much for the Aztecs in the second half. Despite goals from juniors Kimmy Keach and Leanne Ford and another from Poland, the Aztecs again found themselves down, 11-9, at the end of the third period. Four more goals from the Golden Bears in the fourth quarter and a last-ditch comeback effort for SDSU late in the game left the final score at 15-12. Eight different Aztecs pitched in on the scoring effort. Poland led the way with three goals while Brady and Keach ended with two apiece.
Having been such a close match versus a highly ranked team, it was a tough loss to swallow.
“It’s never easy,” Crawford said. “Especially because we came out, we were up on them after the first quarter and we were right there in the game, it’s tough to take a loss like that when you feel like, ‘wow, we could have beat that team.’”
SDSU could have an opportunity to avenge that loss in just a matter of weeks.
“What this loss means, I believe, is that we will see Cal in our first round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference championship game and so, in a way, that was a very good game to play,” Crawford added. “We feel like, if we have another shot at this team, next time we’re going to beat them so I think that’s what we took from it and that’s what was positive about the game and the outcome.”
The loss brought the Aztec’s record to 19-11 on the season while Cal improved to 21-3.