San Jose State University has the toughest opening weekend in collegiate women's water polo with first-day matches against two of the top-three teams in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) national coaches poll.
Using West Valley College in nearby Saratoga to host the third annual LouStrong Invitational, the Spartans took on #2-Stanford and #3-UCLA with similar results. Stanford (2-0) defeated #14-San Jose State (0-2), 17-1, in the season opener for both teams and UCLA (1-0) beat the Spartans, 20-1.
"It was a real good competition for us to see what we have to work on to get better. It was pretty obvious we are inexperienced against top-level teams. These are the games we need to get under our belts to get better," said Gabor Sarusi, who was making his debut as the Spartans' women's water polo head coach.
"I wasn't satisfied with the competition against Stanford. Against UCLA, I know the score doesn't show it, but I think the women were trying really hard. The intensity was there. We may a lot of mental mistakes. There are other things that come with experience, how to handle pressure, what you do under pressure when you are guarded by an Olympian, that definitely defines you."
Between the two teams, San Jose State faced five players that played in the 2016 Rio Olympics and several others who were members of a national team last year.
The Spartans trailed Stanford, 6-1, and UCLA, 6-0, at halftime before the two powerhouses each poured it on the second half. The two opponents seemed to have answers defensively to thwart San Jose State's offense and convert successfully on counter attacks.
Katelynn Thompson was in goal for the first three quarters of each contest. Tayler Peters played the fourth quarter against Stanford and Jessica Harris was the San Jose State goalkeeper against UCLA in the final period. Thompson stopped 12 shots in her six quarters of action. Harris made two saves in her one quarter against UCLA. Peters was not credited with a save against Stanford.
The Spartans conclude the opening weekend on January 15 hosting #4-ranked Cal at 10:00 a.m. and #17-UC Davis (0-1) at 3:00 p.m. in the LouStrong Invitational.
The tournament's first match is an exhibition between Stanford and UCLA at 8:30 a.m. There is no admission charge to watch any of the five matches on the Invitational's final day.