Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - April 16, 2010

Titles will be at stake

Stanford hosts Cal in women's tennis and water polo

by Rick Eymer

Conference titles will be at stake Saturday when the No. 10 Stanford women's tennis team hosts No. 12 California in The Big Slam at noon and the second-ranked Cardinal women's water polo team hosts No. 3 California in The Big Splash at 6 p.m.

It could be the final regular-season match for the Stanford tennis team, but then again, maybe not. A win would give the Cardinal at least a share of the Pac-10 title with USC, though.

The Women of Troy and Stanford (6-0, 17-1) would need to play a makeup match if USC beats UCLA on Friday. That match, starting from scratch, would be played at the Pac-10 championships in Ojai.

California (5-1, 17-4) maintains a chance to share the title, which would be its first since 1987. The Bears need to beat Stanford and they would share first place with either the Cardinal or USC.

The Women of Troy and Stanford have yet to complete a match in two tries this season. The contest in Los Angeles was rained out and the April 4 match was suspended after singles play ended in a 3-3 tie. ITA rules dictate the rematch be played from the beginning.

Stanford had its string of 21 consecutive conference titles come to an end when USC went unbeaten last year.

Adding to the intrigue is that Stanford's 159-match home winning streak is on the line Saturday. The Cardinal needed a come-from-behind effort from Jessica Nguyen to win last year's match with the Bears at Taube Tennis Center.

Cal was the last team to beat Stanford on its home court, but players from both teams were in grammar school when it happened on Feb. 27, 1999.

Lindsay Burdette is Stanford's lone senior this year and will be honored in a ceremony on Saturday.

Cardinal junior Hilary Barte, who is 17-1 in dual meets and 25-4 overall, will compete against Cal sophomore Jana Juricova at No. 1 singles. Juricova regained her No. 2 ranking this week and leads the team with 34 singles wins. She has won nine consecutive dual singles matches.

Freshman Mallory Burdette leads Stanford with 28 wins in 32 decisions (16-2 in dual meets) and partners with fellow freshman Stacey Tan to give Stanford, on a 10-match winning streak, a solid No.2 doubles team behind Barte and older sister Lindsay.

The Big Splash will also go a long way to determine the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular-season champ, although the only thing that will guarantee is the top seed in the conference tournament.

The tournament champion earns the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, which will be held in San Diego this year.

Stanford (5-0, 20-1) has only played once in April, taking a two-week break following finals. The Cardinal, on an eight-game win streak, will see plenty of action the rest of the way. Top-ranked USC comes to Avery Aquatic Center next weekend, April 24.

If everything works out, Stanford will play six games in a 17-day span to end the season.

Menlo-Atherton grad Kelly Eaton is the reigning MPSF Player of the Week and Annika Dries earned Newcomer of the Week honors after Stanford beat host Hawai'i last Sunday.

Palo Alto grad Remy Champion is a senior driver at Cal (4-2, 23-5) and Sacred Heart Prep grad Lindsay Dorst in a redshirt freshman goalie. Champion has appeared in all 28 matches and scored 14 goals. Dorst has recorded 14 saves in three games.

Eaton is second in scoring with 38 goals. Sophomore Melissa Seidemann leads with 39. Sacred Heart Prep grad Pallavi Menon is third with 30, followed by Dries with 27 and Menlo School grad Kim Krueger with 21. Sacred Heart Prep grad Vee Dunlevie (10) is one of six other Cardinal players with double-digit goals.

The Cardinal has outscored its opponents by a 261-102 margin this season, including a lopsided 77-27 edge in the first period.

The Bears are on a nine-game winning streak and are led by Emily Csikos with 59 goals.

Stanford's Amber Oland and Cal's Stephanie Peckham are two of the better goalies in the conference, although Cardinal freshman Kate Baldoni leads the conference with a 1.94 goals-against average. Oland is second at 4.00.

Stanford is second in the MPSF with 12.43 goals a game, and second with a 4.86 goals-against average.  

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