Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 4, 2012

Stanford women's water polo No. 1 for NCAA field

by Rick Eymer

The top-ranked Stanford women's water polo team was named the top seed for the NCAA championships on Monday and the Cardinal will begin defense of its national title beginning May 11 at Aztec Aquaplex in San Diego.

The Cardinal (23-2) got the No. 1 seed despite losing to UCLA in overtime of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament, 8-7, on Sunday. The Bruins (21-3) also beat Stanford, 5-4, earlier in the season and were named the second seed.

Stanford has beaten UCLA twice, 9-5 and 8-1, this year. USC (21-5) is the third seed followed by UC Irvine, Loyola Marymount, Princeton, Iona and Pomona-Pitzer.

The Sagehens (21-16) are the top-ranked team in Division III and will meet Stanford, the only team to have qualified for each of the 13 NCAA sponsored national championships, in the opening round.

Pomona-Pitzer features a group of 12 freshmen and sophomores, including Gunn High grad Alex Lincoln, Sacred Heart Prep grad Sarah Westcott and Castilleja grad Sallie Walecka.

The Sagehens earned the automatic bid to the eight-team championship with a dramatic 12-11 triple-overtime win over Redlands in the SCIAC Championship game on Sunday, and will bring an 11-game winning streak into the NCAA tournament.

Pomona-Pitzer is 0-3 against the field, losing to LMU, UC Irvine and Iona. The opening-round match features a rare meeting of top-ranked teams in different divisions. There is also an academic element to the contest, as Stanford is currently ranked fifth by U.S. News & World Report among national universities while Pomona College is ranked fourth among liberal arts colleges.

Stanford is 6-2 against the field, with two wins each over the Bruins and USC and one win each over UC Irvine and LMU, one of which will be Stanford's second-round opponent, win or lose.

Stanford heads into the tournament led by the MPSF's top-ranked offense (12.28 goals per game) and defense (4.72 goals allowed a game). On offense, seven players have scored at least 20 goals this season, led by freshmen Kiley Neushul (55 goals) and Ashley Grossman (47) while senior Alyssa Lo is also over the 30-goal mark with 32.

Junior goalie Kate Baldoni boasts a goals-against average of just 4.62 and averages 10.11 saves a game to anchor the Cardinal defense.

The Lions (20-9) and Anteaters (24-6) will be meeting for the third time this season. UC Irvine earned a 12-9 win at the Burns Aquatic Center on Feb. 18, and then a week later the Lions earned a 9-6 win at UCI on Feb. 25.

This is the Lions ninth trip to the NCAA Championships and will be the first time the Lions will open the tournament against a foe not from the MPSF.

Menlo School grad Elise Ponce, a senior goalie for the Lions, was named the WWPA tournament MVP.

The Anteaters, featuring Menlo-Atherton grad MJ O'Neill, who scored six goals as a freshman, won their fourth straight Big West title to earn their second straight NCAA Tournament berth and set a program record with their 24th win of the season with a 10-5 win over UC Davis on Sunday.

The Gaels (24-11) clinched the MAAC's automatic berth with a 10-9 overtime victory over Wagner in the championship game, overcoming an early 5-1 deficit. They will meet UCLA, with M-A grad Becca Dorst and Sacred Heart Prep grad KK Clark.

Princeton (28-4) won the CWPA Eastern Championship for the second time in program history and first since 2000. This is the first time in program history that the Tigers will participate in the NCAA Championships.

Castilleja grad Laura Martinez scored seven goals and appeared in 29 games for the Tigers. She'll run into Priory grad Constance Hiller and the Women of Troy in the first round.

Baseball

Austin Wilson hit a pair of home runs and drove in three and Jake Stewart added a two-run home run in Stanford's 8-5 loss to host San Jose State in a nonconference game Tuesday.

The 10th-ranked Cardinal (28-12) visits Corvallis for an important Pac-12 series with Oregon State that gets underway Friday at 5:30 p.m .

Stanford, which has still won six of its past eight games, was limited to seven hits by seven Spartan pitchers. The Cardinal allowed eight runs on 10 hits.

Golf

Stanford's Andrew Yun played consistently well through four rounds of play to capture the individual title of the Pac-12 men's golf championships, which ended Sunday at the Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis, Ore.

Yun shot a final round of 68 to finish 13-under 275 for the 72-hole tournament, winning by two strokes over Oregon's Daniel Miernicki.

Freshman Patrick Rodgers finished eighth on the leaderboard as Stanford finished sixth as a team.

Yun's final round included an eagle on the 381-yard eighth hole that put him under par for the day and was one of 23 holes on which he shot par or better.

Yun becomes the first Stanford golfer to claim conference medalist honors since Jim Seki did it in 2002, also in Corvallis.

Stanford hosts the NCAA West Regional, May 17-19, at Stanford Golf Course. The top five teams from the event will advance to the NCAA Championships at the Riveria Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

The Stanford women, meanwhile, have been selected to join the 22-team field at the NCAA West Regional, to be held at the Colorado National Golf Club in Erie, May 10-12.

The top eight teams from and two individuals from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championships, May 22-25 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn.

Stanford is coming off a seventh-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships over the weekend.

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