Stanford women’s water polo (17-1, 2-0 MPSF) had easily the most successful spring break it could hope for. While many students found themselves struggling in customs, or unable to get off the couch unless, heaven forbid, the chips ran out, the Cardinal women hit the tank for three more wins.
First, the team took on Harvard under the Friday night lights. Though academically competitive with Stanford, Harvard was dominated in the pool. The Cardinal beat the Crimson 23-7 to kick off their three-win week. Junior Maggie Steffens and senior Ashley Grossman knocked in five apiece as the Cardinal’s leading scorers, and the remaining 13 came from six other players. It was the most goals Stanford had scored in one match since 2010.
The scoring began with Steffens just 18 seconds in, and from there the Cardinal never looked back. They secured a 7-2 lead after just the first quarter and after just those eight minutes, Steffens had her hat trick. The Cardinal tacked on three more before halftime, starting the second half in double digits. The third quarter, however, was the most fruitful of the day.
The Cardinal scored eight goals in the quarter while only allowing two. Both Steffens and Grossman rounded out their nights and Kiley Neushul, Sophia Monaghan, Jamie Neushul and Katie Dudley contributed in the onslaught. The fourth quarter was similarly remarkable, but not nearly as diverse.
Sophomore Dani Jackovich rocketed home four goals in the final period. Including the final strike with only 26 seconds left, Jackovich’s four-goal game was the second of her career, but it represented the first time she had scored them all in the same quarter. Junior Gurpreet Sohi tacked on a goal of her own that quarter to push the Cardinal total to 23.
With such a significant win under its belt, the team practiced hard to prepare for the following Saturday’s match against Arizona State. The No. 8 Sun Devils played the Cardinal closer than Harvard, but the Cardinal left Tempe with a 10-4 win. The conference win brought the Cardinal to 2-0 this season in MPSF play.
Seven Cardinal combined on the attack, most notably junior Anna Yelizarova, who made her return back to the lineup after suffering a February injury. Yelizarova scored twice, both in the second quarter, to put her one away from the 100-goal mark in her Stanford career. Gabby Stone recorded four saves, all she needed to preserve the win for the Cardinal.
Following the win, Stanford came right back home to face the No. 11 UC Davis Aggies on Sunday afternoon. In their last non-conference game of the season, the Cardinal showed their dominance, beating the Aggies 14-3.
The game doesn’t appear particularly memorable on paper until it’s lined up next to the record books. Kiley Neushul recorded a hat trick, as she has done seven times this season. However, this time, the final goal marked the 200th score of Neushul’s Stanford career. An incredible accomplishment, she joins only three other former Cardinal players in the record books and is the only active player to have reached the 200 total.
Yelizarova also scored. It was the 100th of her Stanford career, putting her in the company of offensive powerhouses Neushul, Grossman (155) and Steffens (143).
Jackovich scored another hat trick, her second of the week. Again, all of her goals came in one quarter. This time she opened the scoring, however, instead of closing it out; all three of her goals came in the first period of play. Neushul and Grossman each added one of their own as the Cardinal ended the first quarter up 5-1.
The Cardinal defense allowed only one goal a quarter and shutout the fourth to preserve the win. While the in-pool defense was predictably solid, the defense was anchored by a career-high 15-save effort by goalkeeper Gabby Stone. Stone was electric in the cage and prevented many of the Aggies’ shots from finding the back of the net. Stone’s performance wasn’t merely a good day in the pool by her standards; the game ties her for fourth this season in the MPSF.
The Cardinal now advances to purely conference play through the rest of the season. In the MPSF, the toughest conference in the nation, they will need to stay sharp to round out the season on top. Their next opportunity comes this Saturday at home against the San Jose State Spartans. The Cardinal have faced the Spartans before this season and emerged victorious, sporting an 11-8 win. They will be looking to repeat that success on Saturday.
Contact Carlie Tenenbaum at carliet ‘at’ stanford.edu.