By Yousef Hindy
In a thriller that took three periods of overtime to complete, No. 3 Stanford women’s water polo (19-4, 4-2 MPSF) came up just short against No. 2 UCLA (22-3, 5-1) on Saturday in a 9-8 loss in Los Angeles.
Junior driver Jamie Neushul, the team’s leading scorer, recorded her third four-goal game of the season in a stellar performance that kept her team in the game. Junior Dani Jackovich and freshman Kat Klass also continued their offensive successes this year, adding two goals each.
Although the Cardinal weren’t able to find the back of the net for the first 14 minutes, a resurgence in the middle two quarters gave Stanford new life in a rematch of last year’s national championship.
After going down three goals early, Stanford answered with a flurry of three goals in the final 2:20 of the second quarter to tie the match going into halftime. The teams then proceeded to trade goals to head into overtime tied at 6-6 in the Cardinal’s first overtime game of the season. The first period of overtime saw two goals from each team, and both were held scoreless in the second OT.
In the third, sudden-death overtime, UCLA’s Devin Grab scored her fourth goal of the game while Stanford was a man down to clinch the victory and the No. 2 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
The Cardinal’s next test will be at the MPSF Tournament next weekend, in which they drew a first-round matchup with San Jose State. Should both the Cardinal and UCLA win their first-round matches, they will meet again in the semifinals.
“The focus in all of this primarily has to be on us,” said head coach John Tanner. “And if you go back through it, you can see where we’re letting ourselves down, where we’re not preparing as best we can to play the way we prepared to play every day. That’ll always be our focus.”
The team will next be taking on sixth-seeded San Jose State on Friday at 12:45 p.m. in Bakersfield, California.
Contact Yousef Hindy at yhindy at’ stanford.edu.