The No. 1 Stanford women’s water polo team saw its perfect season come to an end on Sunday, as it suffered its first defeat of the year at the hands of Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) foe No. 3 UCLA.
Tied at 4-4 after three periods of play, the Bruins (12-1) scored the go-ahead goal early in the fourth quarter and the Cardinal (11-1) was never able to equalize, dropping a 5-4 decision and the tournament crown. Four Cardinal players scored in the game, and junior goalie Kate Baldoni had nine saves in the loss. No team led by more than a goal throughout the course of the game.
The previous day, the Card routed both No. 20 UC San Diego (7-7) and No. 5 San Diego State (11-3) by a combined margin of 24-6, good enough to place Stanford in Sunday morning’s semifinal against No. 4 California (14-4). After jumping out to an early 6-3 lead and aided by a five-goal third period, the Cardinal handily defeated Cal 13-5 to earn its way into the UCI Invitational title game.
Freshmen Ashley Grossman and Kiley Neushel shone in Sunday’s matchups. Grossman scored five goals on the day, four of which came in the victory over Cal. Neushel scored six goals on the day–five in the Cal game–and a team-high 12 for the weekend. On Monday, the conference named the freshman driver Neushul the MPSF Newcomer of the Week, her second time receiving the honor this year.
Next weekend, Stanford returns home to host a pair of conference opponents. The Card will face Long Beach State on Saturday, March 3, and UC Irvine on Sunday, March 4, with both games set to start at 1 p.m. at the Avery Aquatic Center.