By Divine Edem
This past weekend, No. 5 Stanford women’s water polo (12-2) competed against the nation’s top college water polo programs at the UC Irvine Invitational, where it lost to No. 1 USC (11-0) in the semifinals, but notched wins over No. 14 Loyola Marymount (5-9), No. 5 UC Davis (11-8) and No. 6 Hawaii (13-4), good for a third-place finish in the tournament.
The Cardinal dominated on Saturday, crushing Loyola Marymount and UC Davis 13-5 and 12-5, respectively. Against Loyola Marymount, freshman driver Madison Berggren led Stanford in scoring and notched her second hat trick of the season. Sophomore Katie Dudley and seniors Gurpreet Sohi and Anna Yelizarova followed close behind with 2 goals apiece to round out the offense. Junior goalkeeper Julia Hermann held down the defense on the other end with 5 saves.
Against UC Davis, junior driver Jamie Neushul shined with her 4 goals for the Cardinal. Hermann continued to be impressive, tallying 6 saves in net as Stanford ended day one on a high note, as expected.
Going into the USC match, the Cardinal needed to be on top of their game to rattle the No. 1 team in the nation. Despite brilliant efforts from Hermann in goal with 8 saves and strong flashes of attack from the offense, Stanford suffered its first loss since early February by a final score of 7-6.
However, the team did not let this close defeat deter it from finishing the tournament strong. On Sunday, Stanford faced Hawaii for the third-place spot in the tournament. The Cardinal showed no mercy, finding the team’s key balance of strategic offense and strong defensive play, ultimately prevailing in a decisive 13-7 victory to claim third place for the weekend.
Next up for the team is a match up against local competition, No. 11 San Jose State (9-8), at the Avery Aquatics Center this Saturday. The Cardinal will look to move past the disappointing loss to USC and show their continued domination over lower-ranked teams.
The last time these two teams played was at the Stanford Invitational Tournament on Feb. 6, with the Cardinal cruising to an easy 17-6 victory over the Spartans. Neushul, Yelizarova, sophomore Shannon Cleary and freshman driver Kat Klass each scored hat tricks in a strong offensive performance for the team.
A key to the victory was Stanford’s ability to capitalize on 6-5 chances. The Cardinal has gone six for nine on 6-5 opportunities, a trend they will hope to repeat in the upcoming match up. After the team’s packed schedule during the UC Irvine Tournament, the San Jose matchup offers the chance to regroup and look forward to the rest of the season as the team attempts to win its third straight national championship.
Live stats for the game will be available at gostanford.com.
Contact Divine Edem at dedem ‘at’ stanford.edu and Amanda McLean at ammclean ‘at’ stanford.edu.