By Stephen Ren
Stanford’s No. 1 ranked women’s water polo team (16-1, 4-0 MPSF) prepares to travel across the Bay to face off against the No. 4 ranked California Golden Bears (13-5, 1-2) this Saturday at 12 p.m. PST. Stanford is coming off two close wins against rival NCAA championship contenders, outlasting No. 3 ranked UCLA (21-4, 4-1) 7-6 last Saturday and edging out No. 2 USC (21-1, 3-1) 9-8 in overtime the weekend prior. With their toughest opponents behind them, the Cardinal seek to close out the last three games of the regular season.
The Stanford squad has been dominant on the water all year, obliterating opponents by as many as 21 goals on multiple occasions (in their season opener against No. 11 Long Beach State, and against No. 19 Indiana). The only loss came at the hands of longtime championship rival USC, who claimed victory in the Barbara Kalbus Invitational back in February. That game was tied 7-7 midway through the fourth quarter, before USC went on a three goal run, finishing the game 10-8. Down but not out, Stanford bounced back spectacularly in their second matchup against the Trojans two weeks ago. Junior driver Mackenzie Fischer had three goals in the game, including the only goal between either team in overtime. The win broke USC’s 37-game winning streak up to that point, and helped Stanford claim the coveted No. 1 national ranking, which had previously belonged solely to USC all season.
Last Saturday’s game against UCLA was a nail-biter as well, and the Fischer sisters were the star of the show for the Cardinal, whose combined scoring matched that of the Bruins’ entire team. Makenzie Fischer was the engine of Stanford’s offense, putting in five goals in the game. Sophomore Aria Fischer scored the deciding goal with just five seconds remaining on the clock, giving Stanford the 7-6 victory.
While those last two victories certainly helped boost team morale, the Cardinal must now focus on cross-bay rival UC Berkeley. The two teams have met once so far this season, which resulted in a 17-10 victory for Stanford. While on paper Stanford should have no trouble putting away the Golden Bears, Cal has the home court advantage in a rivalry game, and the Cardinal must remain mentally sharp and focused to prevent any mishap.
After Cal, Stanford will host No. 9 UC Davis (16-10) next Friday at 6 p.m. PST before finishing off the regular season against No. 21 San Jose State (9-12) Saturday at 1 p.m. PST.
Contact Stephen Ren at rensteph ‘at’ stanford.edu.