By Jana Persky
The No. 2 Stanford women’s water polo team turned in a carbon copy of its first win over No. 10 San Jose State on Saturday afternoon, beating the Spartans by a 15-4 score for the second time this season.
Once again, the Cardinal (14-1, 2-0 MPSF) used a variety of weapons to overpower its opponent. Nine different players scored for Stanford, led by hat tricks from junior Annika Dries and sophomore Kiley Neushul, and freshman Gabby Stone made nine saves in goal.
“It’s fun that we got really consistent play throughout our lineup and it was reflected in how we played in the game,” said Stanford head coach John Tanner. “We have depth and solid play throughout our lineup—if somebody’s not playing their best, somebody else is ready to step in.”
The Cardinal started the game off with three quick goals from Neushul, freshman Maggie Steffens and senior Alexis Lee before the Spartans got on the board with 2:33 left in the quarter. Neushul would answer back immediately, tallying her second goal of the game to give Stanford a 4-1 lead after one period of play.
The Cardinal would continue the pace in the second quarter by putting away four more goals and preventing the Spartans from netting even one. Junior Lexie Ross opened the scoring with a powerful outside shot on Stanford’s first possession.
On the Spartans’ next possession, Stone shut down a point-blank opportunity before launching a long pass to Dries, who finished the counterattack.
Dries made the play on both ends of the pool for the Cardinal’s next goal. The junior chased down a breaking Spartan player, creating the opportunity for Neushul to record the steal. Dries then raced down the pool to receive a pass in front of the net and emphatically put away her second of three goals on the day.
After senior Melissa Seidemann, who currently leads the Cardinal with 36 goals, scored a power-play goal, Stanford took a commanding 8-1 lead into halftime.
Two minutes after halftime, Dries capped off the hat trick with another power play goal. Four of the Cardinal’s first nine goals came with a Spartan player excluded, something that Tanner said will bode well for the Cardinal going forward.
“When we get into close games, we’ve got to be efficient in how you attack in 6-on-5 and you’ve got to be cohesive in 5-on-6,” Tanner said. “When we get our opportunities to close out close games or to come back from behind, we’ll need to be really solid in those player advantages.”
After Dries’ goal, the Spartans responded with two goals to close the gap to 9-3, but Stanford would add two more of its own before the end of the period.
Senior captain Jillian Garton slid a shot inside the near post following another quick Cardinal counter for the first of her two goals on the day. About a minute later, Dries drew a penalty shot that Steffens fired home into the lower left corner.
Stanford gave San Jose State no chance at a comeback throughout the final quarter as the defense continued to stifle the Spartan attack.
“Sometimes in games like these, you tend to lapse or lose energy, but we sustained that all the way through,” Tanner said. “I liked our defensive effort.”
After junior Kaley Dodson poked a loose ball into the San Jose goal, Stanford capitalized on two defensive steals to create breakaway chances.
Dodson pressured a Spartan player into turning the ball over at the point then worked the ball to Neushul, who gave the goalkeeper no chance to stop the 1-on-0 advantage.
The Cardinal then made a mass substitution, but the result was the same; this time it was freshman Anna Yelizarova causing the turnover to set up a breakaway goal by Lo.
Garton finished Stanford’s scoring spree with another counter-attack goal set up by a long pass from Stone. The freshman, who played the entire game, was a strong presence in net for the Cardinal.
Stanford will now take a 13-day break for dead week and finals before returning to the pool on March 22 to take on Harvard. Following that, the Cardinal will travel to Arizona and Hawaii for two big weekends of competition.
“There’s a lot ahead of us in terms of coming together as a team—we’re coming along and building some chemistry,” Tanner said. “We’ll really be tested right after finals when we go to Arizona State and Hawaii.”
Contact Jana Persky at jpersky “at” stanford.edu.