Invitational water polo title stays with the Stanford women

The second-ranked Stanford women's water polo team defended its home pool by winning twice on Sunday to claim its fifth straight Stanford Invitational title at Avery Aquatic Center.

The Cardinal beat previously unbeaten UCLA, 8-4, in the championship game after getting by UC Irvine, 13-9, in the morning semifinals.

Against the Bruins, Stanford goalie Gabby Stone made 10 saves, and the defense held the Bruins scoreless during a stretch of 11:35 spanning the final 35 seconds of the second quarter until the five-minute mark of the fourth.

Stanford (4-0) scored four times during this stretch to increase what had been a 3-2 game at halftime.

Kiley Neushul and Kelsey Suggs scored goals over the opening 2:12 of the second half to put the Cardinal up 5-2.

Anna Yelizarova scored at the two-minute mark of the period and Annika Dries added Stanford's second straight 6-on-5 goal to make it 7-2 with 5:36 to play.

UCLA scored twice over the final 3:25 but it was not enough as the Cardinal defense held firm.

Yelizarova led the Cardinal with three goals in the title game and with six goals on the day. Dries and Maggie Steffens each scored four times on the day, including hat tricks in the opener against UC Irvine.

Stone went the distance in both games, making a total of 14 saves.

The early morning start at 8 a.m. combined with a moderate rainfall may have affected the Cardinal, but it didn't seem to affect UC Irvine, as the Anteaters answered Steffens' penalty shot 16 seconds in with a three-goal outburst.

Annika Bergesen opened the scoring followed by goals from Danielle Warde and Hillary Estrada finding the target to put the Anteaters up 3-1 with 1:31 left in the period.

Yelizarova scored 18 seconds later but UC Irvine's Cambria Shockley got the lead back up to two with a goal 22 seconds before the end of the frame.

Steffens scored twice to start the second period and even the score at 4-4 before Hannah Croghan got the Anteaters back in front.

Kaley Dodson and Neushul scored back-to-back to get the Cardinal in front for the first time in the game, then Neushul and Yelizarova scored the final two goals of the half after an Anteater goal to make it 8-6 at the break.

UC Irvine stubbornly stayed in the game, thrice trailing by only two goals late, but Dries scored twice over the final 1:19 to secure the win.

Dries had a hat trick along with those from Steffens and Yelizarova, while Neushul scored twice and Dodson and Ashley Grossman each added one.

— Stanford Athletics


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