May 16, 2010

Courtesy of California Athletics

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. - Led by senior captain Meghan Corso's team-high three goals and 11 saves from sophomore goalie Stephanie Peckham, the No. 4-ranked California women's water polo team (26-9) finished third in the nation with an 11-7 victory over Loyola Marymount Sunday (May 16) at the 2010 NCAA Women's Water Polo National Championship at the Aztec Aquaplex in San Diego.

In arguably the best season in Cal women's water polo history, the Golden Bears, led by 1996 USA men's Olympic water polo coach Richard Corso, placed third in the nation after defeating Michigan, 12-8, Friday; falling to top-seed Stanford, 6-3, Saturday and now defeating LMU (28-6) on Sunday. The Lions had upset 2010 MPSF Tournament champion UCLA, 6-5, on Friday.

Besides Corso's scoring output, which included two goals in the opening period that helped Cal jumped out to a 4-1 lead, Bear sophomore standout Emily Csikos and freshman center Dana Ochsner added two goals apiece. Seniors Camille Hewko, Julie Oreglia and Stephanie Schnugg also scored for Cal, along with freshman Lauren Bridges who gave the Bears their third goal of the first period.

Peckham continued to show why she is one of the nation's leading goaltenders as she collected 11 saves and kept the Lions at bay after Cal had jumped out to its early advantage.

"We are real happy with the match today," said Cal coach Corso. "This is the best result in the history of the program and that is the compliment to the seniors, as well as all the other players. They (the seniors) built a great foundation and now we need to keep the momentum going. I can come back to Berkeley with a smile on my face because my office is in a tough wing (with the success of Cal's men's water polo program, and the Bears' men's and women's swimming and diving programs). I now have a trophy to show the rest of my colleagues. At Cal it is all about being World Class and finishing third in the nation is a big deal for our program."

Other NCAA women's water polo tournament results Sunday included No. 7-seed Marist defeating No. 8-seed Pomona-Pitzer, 6-5, in the seventh-place match; No. 3-seed UCLA defeating No. 5-seed Michigan, 9-6, in the fifth-place match. The NCAA championship match placed No. 1 Stanford versus No. 2-seed USC.

The Bears' win Friday against Michigan was their first NCAA tournament match in school history. Prior to women's water polo being an NCAA sport, Cal had competed in the National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship tournament from 1996-2000, finishing as national runners-up in 1996, 1997 and 1998.