The top-ranked Stanford women’s water polo team finished its Southern California road trip unscathed, taking two tough contests over No. 13 UC-Irvine and No. 3 USC. Stanford (20-0, 5-0 MPSF) won 13-4 and 9-8, respectively.
After solid wins against No. 15 UC-Davis and No. 4 UCLA last weekend, the Cardinal had another match against USC (15-4, 3-2), which defeated Stanford in the 2010 NCAA National Championship game by one goal. Stanford has not lost since that game, entering the rematch with 18 straight victories, including two wins against the Trojans this season.
Stanford fell behind early in this matchup, down 4-1 after a quarter of play. Junior driver Nadia Dan scored half of the USC goals in the first quarter.
Even with the three-goal deficit on the road, Stanford came surging back and went on a 4-0 run to capture the lead. The two squads went into final period of regulation in a 5-5 deadlock.
Stanford held a 7-5 advantage in the fourth quarter, but USC battled back to force overtime. In the second overtime period, sophomore driver Jillian Garton launched skip-shot bar-in that sealed the deal.
“We were in disarray on defense in the first quarter, and we played poorly at both ends the last few minutes of the game,” said head coach John Tanner. “But we were organized on defense and had quality possessions in the overtime.”
The nine Cardinal goals were scored by a variety of players. Sophomore two-meter Annika Dries and freshmen driver Kim Krueger each tallied a pair. Junior two-meter Melissa Seidemann, junior drivers Pallavi Menon and Cassie Churnside, and freshmen drivers Kelsey Suggs and Garton notched a goal apiece.
“We use more players than other teams,” Tanner said. “This weekend we got impressive contributions from everyone on the roster, often in areas outside their primary role.”
The Cardinal’s diversified offensive attack was complimented by excellent goalie play, as senior Amber Oland had nine stops.
Even after an emotional victory, Stanford looked sharp the following day against the Anteaters (14-8). The Cardinal jumped out to an 8-2 halftime lead with sophomore Kate Baldoni in the cage. Baldoni finished the 13-4 rout with eleven saves.
“Amber and Kate have split time and played well the last few weeks,” Tanner said. “All three of our goalies are competitive with and supportive of one another.”
Stanford has only three regular season matches left before the MPSF Tournament. The team is scheduled to return home to play No. 5 Hawaii on Saturday.