No. 2 Stanford women’s water polo (17-2, 3-1 MPSF) swam away with a 15-5 victory against No. 13 San José State (11-14, 0-6 MSPF) in its final away game of the season.
For the first couple minutes of gameplay, both teams struggled to find the back of the net, until graduate driver Makenzie Fischer ended the drought with a penalty shot. Fischer’s goal was followed by excellent defense from sophomore goalkeeper Maya Avital and sophomore driver Jewel Roemer. On a power play shortly after, Roemer stole the ball and assisted Fischer for the second goal of the game.
The Spartans responded immediately with a goal of their own to get on the board. However, this did not deter the Cardinal, who proceeded to score three more goals in the opening period. At the end of the first period, Stanford held a 5-1 lead.
After an SJSU shot clock violation early in the second period, Stanford junior driver Ryann Neushul found the back of the net. Soon after, the Spartans turned the ball over and allowed yet another Stanford score, this time by senior 2M Aria Fischer. Less than a minute later, Roemer scored for the Cardinal.
Near the end of the first half, both teams entered a three-minute cold spell until junior 2M Lexie Rowell scored. The teams entered the break with Stanford on top, 9-2.
The Cardinal shot efficiently in the first half, only missing seven shot attempts. In comparison, San José State missed six shots in the first quarter alone and ended the half with 10 missed shots. Even beyond their shooting struggles, the Spartans could not initiate much offensively against a lockdown Stanford defense. The Cardinal forced six Spartans turnovers in the half.
The third period began with a goal from senior 2MD Chloe Harbilas. Both teams then went back and forth for the majority of the quarter until Neushul dented the twine, kicking off a dominant stretch from the Cardinal defense. Stanford forced two turnovers and a bad shot to close the period, giving the Cardinal a 14-4 lead heading into the final period.
The final eight minutes of play were less action-packed. With Stanford up by 10 goals, head coach John Tanner implemented a stalling strategy, involving much more passing than shooting. The Cardinal still played stout defense, allowing only one goal the entire quarter while forcing four turnovers. When the final buzzer rang, Stanford was on top, 15-5.
The Cardinal’s defense shined in this matchup. Stanford forced 12 turnovers, nine of which were steals. While the Spartans’ defense also notched double-digit turnovers, their defensive efforts could not keep up with the intensity that the Cardinal brought to the match.
Neushul led Stanford’s scoring attack with four goals on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting performance. Following her, Aria Fischer scored a hat trick while Mackenzie Fischer and junior 2MD Sophie Wallace notched two goals each. Avital had nine saves and a steal as well.
Next up, Stanford will take on No. 14 Indiana (13-12, 1-3 MPSF) in its penultimate match of the regular season. The Cardinal will look to extend their record against the Hoosiers to 9-0 all-time.
The first sprint will start on Sunday, April 10 at 10 a.m. PT at Avery Aquatics Center.