By James Hemker
The second-ranked women’s water polo team (7-0, 1-0 MPSF) travels to Irvine, CA, this weekend to compete in the 13th annual Barbara Kalbus Invitational hosted by UC Irvine (UCI).
The invitational is a 16-team tournament that showcases the best teams in the NCAA. The top 10 teams in the country will be in attendance, and the remaining six teams are all within the top 25.
Stanford opens their weekend against No. 21 Cal State Northridge (6-6) this morning. Depending on the outcome, the team will either play No. 7 UC Irvine or No. 10 University of the Pacific (UoP) on Saturday.
Last year, the Cardinal held teams to three goals in three of their four victories as they steamrolled their way to their fourth tournament title, and the first in seven years. Overall, Stanford is 40-8 at the Kalbus Invitational.
Through seven games this season, all of which have been against ranked opponents, Stanford has allowed just 44 goals, a mark they surpassed in their second game. The Cardinal offense has been nothing short of historic this year. Averaging a conference-best 21.00 goals per game, Stanford has rattled the cage 147 times in the first seven games, which is the best offensive start in program history.
This onslaught is led by junior driver Makenzie Fischer, who has put the ball away 35 times. Her 5.00 goal per game average is a full goal better than anyone else in the MPSF. While on pace for the single-season goals record (93), she needs just 16 more goals to break into Stanford’s top-10, all-time career goals list.
Fischer was named MPSF Player of the Week last week after dropping six goals on UC Davis. She has won the award each of the three weeks Stanford has been in action.
If the tournament fills out predictably, Stanford will be on a collision course with No. 1 USC. This match would raise the question of what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. The USC defense is currently the best in the conference, allowing just 2.69 goals a game, compared to Stanford’s 6.29.
The match against CSUN starts at 11:15 a.m. PST today. The match vs UoP or UCI will start at 10:30 a.m. PST on Saturday. Depending on the team’s performance, more matches will be played Saturday and Sunday.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.