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Stanford improves to 15-1, readies for USC showdown

The No. 3 Stanford women’s water polo team continued its stellar start to the season over the weekend, sweeping the San Diego schools to improve to 15-1 and maintain its dangerous run of form. This becomes increasingly important with the MPSF season starting in earnest on Sunday with a pivotal matchup against No.1 USC, who defeated the Cardinal in quadruple overtime in last year’s NCAA title game.

Sophomore driver Maggie Steffens led the Cardinal with six goals in its dominant wins against the San Diego Schools. (HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA/StanfordPhoto.com)

Sophomore driver Maggie Steffens led the Cardinal with six goals in its dominant wins against the San Diego Schools. (HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA/StanfordPhoto.com)

Stanford looked comfortable with a 21-7 victory over No. 13 UC-San Diego (17-10) on Sunday before finishing the weekend with a 12-6 win over No. 20 San Diego State (16-10) on Monday. The Cardinal were paced by the play of sophomore driver Maggie Steffens, who scored a total of six goals over the weekend’s play.

The matchup against the UCSD Tritons was never really in doubt as Stanford took an 11-2 lead into halftime.

Although UCSD’s offense would pick up in the second half, Stanford’s own firepower was simply too dominant. Steffens led the team with four goals, but she was ably assisted by hat tricks from sophomore driver Anna Yelizarova, junior two-meter Ashley Grossman and junior driver Kiley Neushul.

Monday’s game against the Aztecs features more of the same, with the Cardinal jumping out to an early 9-1 lead. Yelizarova notched another hat trick, continuing her fantastic play throughout the season, and the Aztecs simply could not recover.

The Cardinal will now set their sights on their longtime nemesis in USC, who have cruised to a perfect 19-0 (4-0 MPSF) record and have won 26 straight games dating back to last season. The rivals will square off at Avery Aquatic Center on Sunday at 5 p.m., and the action will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

Contact Dylan Fugel at dfugel ‘at’ stanford.edu.