W. Water Polo: Seniors propel perfect season

April 27, 2011, 1:47 a.m.

With a dominant 17-5 victory over San Jose State Saturday night, the Stanford women’s water polo team racked its 23rd straight victory to finish the regular season undefeated.

The No. 1 Cardinal (23-0, 7-0 MPSF) had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Tournament going into Saturday’s matchup with the No. 7 Spartans (20-11, 2-5), and Stanford came out of the gates firing on all cylinders after honoring its three seniors before the match.

W. Water Polo: Seniors propel perfect season
Senior Amber Oland (above) and the Stanford women's water polo team knocked off San Jose State on Saturday to complete back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

After just two minutes and thirty seconds of play, the Spartans already looked flustered with Stanford up 3-0 after goals from sophomore two-meter Annika Dries, junior two-meter Melissa Seidemann and junior driver Pallavi Menon. The Cardinal offensive attack slowed down for the rest of the period and a Spartan goal with 40 seconds left cut the Cardinal lead to 3-1.

Stanford then fired back with a 4-0 scoring run–started by a Menon goal that stretched the lead to 7-1–before giving up a late goal to the Spartans near the end of the first half.

After taking a 7-2 lead into the break, the Cardinal continued to pad its lead with six goals in the third quarter.

Dries and Seidemann, the top two scorers and primary two-meter players on the team, each finished the game with three goals. The pair of hat tricks for the Cardinal’s two leading scorers puts Dries at 51 goals on the season and Seidemann at 40. Together, the two have combined to score nearly a third of the team’s 282 goals in the regular season.

“Annika and Mel have been terrific in front of the goal at both ends of the pool,” said head coach John Tanner. “They have complemented each other really well. But we’ve also gotten solid play from a lot of people at two meters and two meter defense.”

Going into the fourth quarter, the Cardinal had a comfortable 13-3 advantage, and two more quick goals coupled with an unrelenting Stanford defense made the score 15-3.

At this point, Coach Tanner had a unique opportunity to honor the team’s three seniors–driver Kim Krueger and goalies Amber Oland and Kim Hall. Tanner sent out Oland as she donned a new No. 16 cap, setting aside her usual No. 1 to play alongside Krueger and Hall.

“Our seniors have never competed together during their four years,” Tanner said. “There was an opportunity for them to finish their last game at Avery in the water together, so we put Kim Hall in the goal and [Krueger] and [Oland] in the field. Amber has practiced as a field player some over the past two years, so it wasn’t anything foreign to her.”

The Class of 2011 then closed out the last few minutes in style, as Oland notched her first collegiate goal with 1:20 left in her final game at home and Hall recorded two stops in the final period.

“Kim, Kim and Amber have been great leaders for this year’s team,” Tanner said. “They are passionate about water polo and competition, and our team has reflected that passion.”

Nine different players scored for the Cardinal against the Spartans on Friday and all three goalies recorded saves, demonstrating Stanford’s most distinguishing trait headed into the postseason: depth.

“We’ve used at least 13 people every game this year, which allows us to play at a fast tempo and gives us a lot of options,” Tanner said.

With an undefeated regular season and the No. 1 seed going into the MPSF Tournament this weekend at San Jose State, the Cardinal is in excellent position to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

“MPSF is the toughest tournament in the nation,” Tanner said. “Every game will have NCAA tournament implications, and we have no idea who we might match up with after Friday. But we’re familiar with everyone, and we’ll be ready to go.”

This coming Friday, Stanford will kick off the MPSF quarterfinals against No. 11 Arizona State at 1:30 p.m. at San Jose State.

The match against the Sun Devils will be the fourth time the two teams have faced off this season–the Cardinal won the first three by an average of nine goals. The winner will then face the winner of UCLA and USC on Saturday.


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