By James Hemker
The Stanford water polo programs continue to make waves even after the conclusions of their seasons. Junior Makenzie Fischer and redshirt sophomore Ben Hallock were each awarded the Peter J. Cutino Award. Considered the Heisman Trophy of the collegiate water polo world, the award is handed out to the best male player and best female player of each year.
This is the third time that Stanford has swept the awards. Tony Azevedo (2001-04) and Brenda Villa (2001-03) were the honorees in 2002 and Azevedo repeated with Jackie Frank (2001-03) the following year. Hallock joins Azevedo, who won the Cutino Award all four years of his career, as the only Stanford men to be honored. Fischer is the sixth Cardinal woman honored, following Kiley Neushul (2015, 2012), Annika Dries (2014, 2011), Melissa Seidemann (2013), Frank and Villa.
Fischer’s award comes after one of the most impressive offensive performances in Stanford history. Averaging a conference-best 3.50 goals per game, Fischer’s average was the second-highest the MPSF has seen in the last fifteen years (Sarah Harris; Pacific; 2007; 3.64).
She poured in 84 goals over 24 games, which is the second highest single-season total in school history (Ellen Estes; 1998; 93). It also sets the single-season record for a national champion. Currently, Fischer sits at sixth with 205 on the school career goals list. She will have one more year to score 35 goals and reach No. 240, which would surpass current record holders Seidemann (2009-11, 13) and Lauren Silver (2006-09) who are tied at 239.
Fans will have to wait a year for Fischer to return to Avery, as she will be taking a year off from the team to train with Team USA for the 2020 Olympics.
Fischer helped lead the Cardinal to its seventh program title this past season. For her efforts, she was named the NCAA Tournament MVP as well as earning MPSF Player of the Year and ACWPC National Player of the Year honors.
Hallock paced Stanford in scoring with 65 goals on the year, and he rattled the cage in 21 of his 23 games. He had the second highest goals-per-game average in the conference, scoring at a 2.86 clip.
Due to his extremely high level of play and status as a member of the 2016 Olympic team, Hallock was normally double- or triple-teamed by opponents. Despite this he pounded back hat tricks in 12 games. He had a career-high eight-goal contest against UC Irvine early in the year.
“I am extremely thankful and humbled to win this award,” said Hallock. “Thank you to the Cutino family for this great honor. I also want to thank my family for the passion, dedication and discipline they instilled in me. To all the incredible coaches I have had the pleasure of working with, thank you for the time and energy you put in to make me the player I am today. To my Stanford teammates, you mean so much to me. Your support and friendship have made a positive impact on my life.”
Like Fischer, Hallock was named the ACWPC’s National Player of the Year for his efforts in leading the Cardinal to their first NCAA final since 2008. He also helped Stanford capture its first MPSF post-season conference title in five years.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.