SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After a difficult tournament down in San Diego, Santa Clara women's water polo heads to the East Bay to play in the California Speedo Cup II.
The Broncos (3-6) will face stiff competition against top-ranked Stanford (7-0) and No. 4 Cal (9-1) at Spieker Aquatics Complex on the campus of University of California, Berkeley.
"I am looking forward to playing two of the top four teams in the country," Santa Clara head coach Keith Wilbur said. "There are Olympic players on both teams and we see it as an opportunity to play against the best and it's just a challenge."
The Broncos knocked off Sonoma State at home earlier this month, but were unable to defeat the Seawolves a second time on Sunday on the final day of action at the Triton Invitational at UC San Diego. Sonoma State scored the game-winning goal in a 5-4 win, right after Cathy Cantoni had tied the game late in the third quarter.
"Last weekend was the first time where we played four games in a weekend. It was definitely a wakeup call in terms of the grind", Wilbur said. "We played better throughout the tournament and Sunday we lost both but they were close games and I actually thought we played well on defense and we did what we wanted to on offense we just had a really hard time scoring the ball."
Moving forward, the team has high hopes for the rest of the season as the Broncos mesh 11 newcomers into the roster.
Sophomore Hannah Buck is the team's top scorer with 12 goals. She also has a team-best 21 kickouts drawn. Cantoni, one of six seniors on the roster, is tied for second in goals (six) and has a team-high eight assists.
Francesca Puccinelli has started all nine games in net, averaging nearly nine blocks per contest.
"We will build on our conditioning and we're doing some more shooting drills where we're going to get tired and take shots and still put some mustard on the ball," Wilbur said.
The Broncos will take this momentum into Saturday's one-day tournament as they face teams with Olympic players. Stanford features Olympians Makenzie Fischer and Maggie Steffens, while Cal has three - Anna Illes, Dora Antal, and Roser Tarrago.
On their plan going into this weekend Wilbur said, "If we can play with them and handle that and control the ball then we can do that against any team in our conference so it's a learning experience, it's a building opportunity and we will have that mindset going in."
The Stanford game is set for Saturday at 9 a.m., followed by Cal at 3 p.m.
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