After a disappointing finale in its last tournament, No. 4 Stanford women’s water polo (7-1) returns to the pool this weekend when it travels up north to Davis to take on the No. 5 Aggies (8-4) and Brown (1-6).
While having an early-season loss is something Stanford is not familiar with — the team had not lost this early in the season since 2009 — Cal is certainly a top-tier team whose victory over Stanford cannot simply be considered a fluke. That being said, the Cardinal could only manage 2 goals over the entire game, and a staunch defensive effort that held Cal to 5 goals behind 6 saves from goalie Julia Hermann would not be enough to keep Stanford fully in stride with the Bears. The loss also snapped Stanford’s 32-game win streak at home.
The Cardinal do, however, have a strong shot at sweeping their weekend events and getting back in the win column: They previously beat UC Davis in their second game of the season, an 11-6 victory, while Brown, which Stanford has not played since 2012, comes into the tournament with only one win in tow.
Yet the Aggies should not be dismissed: Despite scoring 6 second-half goals in this season’s previous matchup, they lost to the Cardinal only by five, not a huge margin for water polo. The team also held powerhouse and current No. 1 UCLA to 5 goals last weekend, though it only scored 1 of its own, before beating No. 5 Arizona State, 10-9. Allyson Hansen, who leads the team with 24 goals, will likely be the primary challenge for the Cardinal defense, which has allowed 48 goals over 8 games.
Despite struggling offensively against Cal, Stanford has several weapons who will test the Aggies and Bears: Freshman Kat Klass, junior Jamie Neushul and senior Anna Yelizarova all boast at least a dozen goals over eight games, with Klass leading the team with 17. But it’ll take a well-rounded effort to demolish these opponents and regain the momentum that will elevate Stanford back to the very top of the rankings.
Stanford’s efforts will kick off this weekend in Davis, on Sunday against UC Davis at 10:30 a.m. and Brown at 2 p.m.
Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.