Behind a balanced scoring attack and 20 saves from junior goalie Stephanie Peckham, the No. 5-ranked California women's water polo team remained on top of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings with an 8-3 victory against No. 2 USC on Saturday at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Golden Bears improved to 15-3 overall and 3-0 in MPSF league play.


USC, the defending national champions, dropped to 9-3 and 1-1 in conference. The Trojans' only other losses this year have come in the hands of No. 1-ranked Stanford. Offensively, Cal was led by juniors Emily Csikos and Elizabeth McLaren, sophomore Breda Vosters and freshman Kelly Mendoza, with two goals apiece.

"I think a real key element of this match is that it has been three years since we have defeated USC and they are the defending national champions," said Cal coach Richard Corso. "To defeat the national champions is a real big deal for us. The team really came together and played great team defense. It has been a rigorous start of the season for us because we were dealing with some injuries, but we are now healthy and the kids are getting better and better. We are becoming a very good team with great energy and great spirit."

The Bears shut out USC, 2-0, in the first period as Csikos scored a goal with 2:16 left in the quarter, followed by a goal from Vosters with 1:00 in the period. Both teams notched a goal in the second period with the Trojans getting on the board on Kara-Leigh Huse' shot, and newcomer Mendoza scoring for Cal.

The Bears pulled away in the second half. McLaren scored her two goals in the third period to advance Cal's lead to 5-2. In the fourth period Csikos converted on a five-meter penalty shot that was forced by sophomore Dana Ochsner, Vosters had a lob shot over Trojan goalie Flora Bolonyai and Mendoza finished the Bears' scoring with a tip shot from two meters off an outstanding assist from freshman Ashley Young.