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USC gives water polo first loss of the season

In a thrilling finish to the Kalbus Invitational, No. 2 Stanford fell to No. 1 USC in an 8-10 finish

Junior driver Makenzie Fischer (above) leads the MPSF Conference in both average goals per game (4.27) and total goals (47). (KAREN AMBROSE HICKY/isiphotos.com)

After three electrifying wins in the Barbara Kalbus Invitational at UC Irvine, the Stanford women’s water polo team (10-1, 1-0 MPSF) dropped its first match of the year to defending champions USC. From Friday through Sunday, the No. 2 Cardinal cleaved a path through No. 21 CSUN, No. 8 Arizona State and No. 3 UCLA before the No. 1 Trojans won the final game of the tournament.

Opening round

Stanford rolled over No. 21 CSUN 18-4 (6-7, 0-0 Big West) in another Cardinal blowout. The Fischer sisters led the charge, scoring four a piece. Sophomore Aria Fischer’s four goals tied her season-high for the third time, while junior Makenzie Fischer extended her four-score streak to six games.

Sophomore Sarah Klass and freshman Madison Stamen left the pool with hat tricks of their own. Seniors Mackenzie Wiley and Kat Klass, and freshmen Chloe Harbilas and Ryann Neushul each contributed a goal a piece.

The defense was also stalwart, holding opponents to just four scores for the fourth time this season. Redshirt sophomore Emalia Eichelberger was in goal for the first half, and freshman Thea Walsh took over in the second half.

Quarterfinals

In quarterfinals, Stanford trounced No. 10 University of the Pacific (UoP) (3-4, 0-0 GCC) with a score of 14-3. The win was truly a team effort as ten different women scored during the game. Klass picked up her second hat trick of the day while Harbilas and junior Kayla Constandse each contributed two goals.

The game started slow for Stanford with just Makenzie Fischer and the first of Kat Klass’s goals making the score 2-0. Senior Madison Berggren found a score in the second quarter, as did freshmen Harbilas and Neushul. UoP tallied their first score in the third quarter, but senior Cassidy Wiley and Sarah Klass returned the favor.

The final quarter began with UoP finding two more goals to cut the lead to 11-3. The Cardinal stayed patient, and in the final four minutes, Stamen, classmate Lauren Indart and Constandse all rattled the cage to bring the final score to 14-3.

Semifinals

The Cardinal continued their Saturday momentum by defeating No. 3 UCLA (16-2, 0-0 MPSF) 10-4 in the semifinals. Stanford accounted for the first five goals, a hole from which the Bruins were never able to recover.

Sarah Klass opened up the game two minutes into the first quarter. Mackenzie Fischer, who had been quiet against UoP, returned to her usual form and rattled off the next four goals. The Bruins managed to slip their first goal past Eichelberger a couple minutes before halftime.

A second Bruins goal followed after the break, and Stanford was looking at just a 5-2 lead. The Klass sisters then found the cage again, scoring one each. Fischer tallied her fifth and final goal of the day with 42 seconds left in the third period. Neushul and Kat Klass brought Stanford’s total score to 10 in the final frame.

Finals

The Cardinal dropped an 8-10 decision to No. 1 USC (17-0, 0-0 MPSF) in the finals of the Barbara Kalbus Invitational at UC Irvine. The loss is the first for Stanford, and it marked a season-low in goals scored as well as a season-high in goals allowed.

This highly anticipated match showcased just how far ahead of everyone else these two schools are. Stanford blasted the No. 21, No. 10 and No. 3 teams (outscoring them 42-11) to get to the finals while USC swept through No. 25 SDSU, No. 8 ASU and No. 4 Cal (outscoring them 29-14).

On offense, Sarah Klass led the team, earning her second hat trick of the weekend. Makenzie Fischer was smothered by the USC defense, scoring just twice on 15 different attempts. Neushul, Cassidy Wiley and Kat Klass each found the back of the net as well.

For the first time all season, Stanford failed to lead at any point during the match. USC found first blood, and followed it up with two more goals before Stanford was able to find a score. Anytime Stanford was able to cut the lead, USC was able to respond and re-extend it.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, things began to look up for the Cardinal as Kat Klass found the equalizer at 7-7. The response from the Trojans was torrential, and in the next minute of play, three goals poured passed Eichelberger. The deficit proved to be too great to overcome in the final minutes of the game.

Despite the loss, the Stanford offense still remains supreme in the MPSF in terms of average output on the season with 17.9 goals per game. Makenzie Fischer also leads the conference in both average goals per game (4.27) and total goals (47). Stanford’s leading scorers for the weekend were Makenzie Fischer (12), Sarah Klass (9) and Kat Klass (7).

The team will have over a month to prepare for their rematch with USC at the end of March. Before that, the team will host Santa Clara this Friday.

 

Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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James Hemker

James Hemker

James Hemker '21 is a Managing Editor of Sports. A computer science major, he has made the cross-country journey to the Farm from Baltimore, MD. After being tortured for years by the Redskins, Browns, and Orioles, the wide successes of the Cardinal have shown him that the teams you root for can in fact win championships. Contact James at jahemker 'at' stanford.edu.