The Stanford women's water polo will not begin the 2011 as the defending national champion, but the Cardinal will open as the top-ranked team in the nation, according to the Preseason Varsity Top 20 Poll. Stanford also is favored to defend its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title.
Stanford will open its season at the Michigan Kickoff in Ann Arbor, Mich., this weekend. The Cardinal will debut against Hartwick in the first round on Saturday.
Stanford edged USC in the last week's first national poll, accumulating 98 points to 97 for the Women of Troy. In the MPSF Preseason Coaches' Poll, though, Stanford received six out of eight possible first-place votes for a total of 47 points, ahead of 43 for USC and 35 for Hawaii.
USC and Hawaii each received a first-place vote. Rounding out the MPSF poll were UCLA (34 points), California (26), San Jose State (14), Arizona State (13) and San Diego State (12).
Stanford made its sixth appearance in the NCAA national title game in 2010, falling 10-9 to USC in San Diego. The Cardinal finished the year 26-3 overall, and captured the MPSF regular-season title with a perfect 7-0 record in conference play.
The 2011 Stanford squad, led once again by head coach John Tanner in his 14th season on The Farm, features the return of 2010 All-Americans Amber Oland in goal and two-meter standouts Annika Dries and Melissa Seidemann.
Seidemann and Dries are the Cardinal's top two returning scorers. Seidemann led the squad with 54 goals and Dries tied for third with junior driver Pallavi Menon at 35. Senior Kim Krueger rounds out the returning 30-goal scorers, as she finished 2010 with 30 goals.
Oland returns to the cage for her fourth year as the Cardinal's starting goalie following a 2010 season in which she made 7.05 saves per game while boasting a goals-against average of 4.55.
In addition to its returning strength, the Cardinal will be aided by a talented quintet of freshmen made up of drivers Kaley Dodson, Kaitlyn Lo, Lexie Ross and Kelsey Suggs and two-meter defender Lizzie Peiros.