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Women’s water polo falls to USC in national championship


The Cardinal went to San Diego State’s Aztec Aquaplex this weekend to compete in the NCAA Tournament with high hopes and the No. 1 seed. However, the weekend didn’t end as planned for Stanford, as it fell 10-9 to No. 2 USC in the championship game last night.

Stanford began the weekend Friday afternoon with a blowout win over Pomona-Pitzer. It started the first period with an impressive 7-0 lead, sending a clear message that the Card meant business, especially after its loss to UCLA two weeks ago.

Senior driver Kelly Eaton fends off a Cal player in the Card's regular season win over the Bears. Stanford faced Cal again in the NCAA tournament semifinal, beating the Bears 6-3 to advance to the championship against USC. Eaton scored four goals against the Trojans, but it wasn't enough as USC won the game and the national championship 10-9. (MASARU OKA/Staff Photographer)

By the end of the second period, the Cardinal was ahead 21-2, with the end result determined before the game had even ended.

The final score was 23-3; it was a brutal defeat for Pomona, and several Cardinal players shined in the win.

Freshman goalkeeper Kate Baldoni had a total of five saves. Sophomore two-meter offense Alex Koran and sophomore two-meter offense Melissa Seidemann each smashed four goals into the goal. Freshman two-meter offense Annika Dries, sophomore driver Alyssa Lo, junior driver Kim Krueger, sophomore driver Pallavi Menon and senior driver Kelsey Holshouser each skipped in two goals. Sophomore driver Cassie Churnside, freshman driver Vee Dunlevie and freshman driver Jillian Garton each scored a single goal.

After dominating its match on Friday, the Cardinal continued the tournament by facing off against rival California on Saturday.

The Cardinal led the Golden Bears by one after the first period, but by halftime, both teams were tied at three.

Stanford put its foot down during the third and fourth periods, not letting Cal score a single point, for a final score of 6-3.

Junior goalkeeper Amber Oland saved an incredible 12 shots throughout the match. Seidemann smashed in two goals of her own, while Churnside, Koran, Krueger and Menon each tacked on an additional goal.

Saturday’s win advanced Stanford to the NCAA championship game yesterday, where it met USC, a team that it had already triumphed over twice this season.

Early in the season at the Stanford Invitational, the Cardinal was victorious against USC with a 10-7 win. Later that month, the Cardinal faced off with the Trojans once more at the Irvine Invitational and lost 10-6. In late April, the Cardinal earned its top spot back by stealing a win against USC with a final score of 7-6.

Now, the Cardinal and Trojans faced off again, this time for the National Collegiate Women’s Water Polo Championship.
The Cardinal got off to a slow start in the match, ending the second period with only three points, while the Trojans led with six. The next half of the match, however, the Cardinal stepped up its game, barely trailing behind USC as the Cardinal scored a total of six points during the last two periods.

Stanford looked to be out of contention when the Trojans had a 10-6 lead with less than three minutes remaining. The Cardinal responded with three goals in 96 seconds to put the pressure on USC.

In the final 10 seconds of the game, Dries missed a shot in Stanford’s last chance to tie, leaving the score at 10-9.

Senior driver Kelly Eaton led the Cardinal with four goals, all on penalties. Krueger had two goals, while Churnside, Dries and Lo each skipped in a single goal, as well. Furthermore, Oland had a total of seven saves throughout the match.

Stanford came remarkably close to pulling even, as Seidemann had three shots hit the post, but the Cardinal had to settle for second. This is the fifth time in the 10-year history of NCAA women’s water polo that Stanford has been the national runner-up.

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