The No. 2 Stanford women’s water polo team (14-1, 1-0 MPSF) gave one of its best efforts of the season this past weekend while visiting the No. 3 USC Trojans (14-2, 0-1), opening up conference play with its biggest road win of the season. The 12-9 victory also marked the Cardinal’s first overtime win of the season, bringing them to an even 1-1 in extended contests.
The first quarter was tightly contested with USC’s senior driver Monica Vavic drawing first blood over three and a half minutes in. Sophomore driver Jamie Neushul countered for the Cardinal two minutes later, but USC tacked on one more, ending the period up 2-1. The second quarter, however, was all Stanford. The Cardinal struck four times uncontested to close the first half leading 5-2.
The third quarter rendered no change in deficit. Both teams added three goals: Junior driver Maggie Steffens was responsible for two of the Cardinal strikes, and Vavic added another to her total. At the end of three, the score was 8-5 Cardinal, but then the Trojans came back.
Coming out in the fourth quarter, USC was firing on all cylinders. Just over a minute in, sophomore driver Ioanna Haralabidis scored the Trojan’s sixth goal, and then senior two-meter Ekie Daube brought the game to a one goal difference.
Stanford got a little breathing room thanks to a late goal from junior driver Gurpreet Sohi, but the Trojans were not done yet. With three minutes left in regulation the Trojans scored again. The 9-8 score held for a minute and a half, but with just that remaining in the game Haralabidis scored again, knotting the game at nine. Stanford called a timeout to regroup but was unable to score before the final whistle blew, sending the game to overtime.
Overtime play, which had thwarted the Cardinal previously this season against UCLA, proved to be a golden opportunity for Stanford this time around. After five and a half minutes of play and a yellow card to head coach John Tanner, senior two-meter Ashley Grossman put the Cardinal ahead to stay. A minute later senior driver Kiley Neushul tacked on another, and at the end of the first period of overtime, the Cardinal led 11-9.
In the second period of overtime, Neushul tallied her third goal of the game to record the Cardinal’s final strike, making the game 12-9, the final score.
It was a great showing on both sides of the ball for the Card. Junior goalkeeper Gabby Stone made nine saves, and the defense in the tank was exceptional — only nine of USC’s 31 shots found the cage.
Stanford will return home to host Harvard, “the Stanford of the East,” this Friday at 7 p.m. at the Avery Aquatic Center.
Contact Carlie Tenenbaum at carliet ‘at’ stanford.edu.