Sports

Stanford women's water polo lands another top class

 

Fresh off the program's third NCAA Championship in the past four years, Stanford women's water polo continues to attract elite student-athletes to The Farm as head coach John Tanner announced the signings of six prep standouts to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.

Madison Berggren (Tualatin, Ore.), Makenzie Fischer (Laguna Beach), Kat Klass (Danville), Sophia Stefan (La Canada), Cassidy Wiley (Coronado) and Mackenzie Wiley (Coronado) will enroll at Stanford for the 2015-16 academic year and join the Cardinal for the 2016 season.

"Being a Stanford student-athlete requires a unique and rare combination of intellectual and athletic prowess and these six possess both traits," Tanner said of his program's most recent crop of recruits. "Their successes in the pool speak for themselves, but beyond that they have been wonderful teammates and leaders who have worked diligently in pursuit of their Stanford dreams. They will be great citizens of Nerd Nation."

Berggren, a left-handed driver, is a two-time veteran of USA Water Polo Youth National Teams (2013 and 2014). This past August, she joined Fischer, Klass and current Stanford freshman Jordan Raney on the gold-medal winning USA squad at the FINA Youth World Championships in Madrid. The title capped an undefeated week for Team USA, which beat Hungary, South Africa, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Canada en route to its first-ever FINA Youth World Championship. Berggren scored four times for her country in the tournament, highlighted by a three-goal performance in an Aug. 27 victory over Germany.

Also a member of the 2012 USA Cadet Women's National Team, Berggren led Tualatin High School to 2011 and 2013 Oregon state championships and was named State Tournament MVP last November. Prior to scoring two of her team's seven goals in the title game, Berggren scored 10 in Tualatin's 17-3 victory in the state tournament semifinal. She has been an All-State First Team selection each year of her prep career for the Timberwolves.

"Madison's enthusiasm for excellence and passion for water polo have launched her on an exciting trajectory heading into her college career," Tanner commented. "She has great speed, length and a dynamic shot."

A National Honor Society member, Berggren plays club for the San Diego Shores Girls U18 team that placed second at the 2014 Junior Olympics.

Fischer, another driver, is one of just two high school students, and the only member of the class of 2015, on the USA Women's Senior National Team. She scored five goals in helping the Senior Team to gold at the 2014 FINA World League Super Final in Kunshan, China this past June and tallied six goals en route to silver at the FINA Intercontinental Tournament in Riverside in May.

In the span of one calendar year, Fischer helped win two world championships for her country, first with the USA Water Polo Women's Junior National Team at the FINA Women's Junior World Championship in Volos, Greece in August 2013 and again this past August with the USA Water Polo Youth National Team at the aforementioned FINA Youth World Championships in Madrid.

Fischer, the daughter of two-time Stanford men's water polo All-American and 1992 Olympian Erich Fischer (1988), also won the 2014 Kirishi Cup with the senior team in Russia in early July. Her mother Leslie, a 1987 Stanford graduate, played for the Cardinal women's water polo team when it was a club sport.

"Makenzie is a comprehensively athletic and skilled player who is comfortable anywhere in the pool," Tanner said. "She has worked diligently to meet challenges at every level of our sport and in all her academic pursuits, making her a great fit for Stanford and Stanford water polo."

While starring for Laguna Beach High, where she received the school's Female Scholar-Athlete Award as a junior, the Breakers won their first-ever Girls' CIF Southern Section Division I Championship and Fischer was named 2014 CIF-SS Division I Female Water Polo Athlete of the Year. She was also named the 2014 Player of the Year by the Orange County Register and was a 2013 Orange Coast League MVP and First Team All-Section selection.

Kat Klass was the third member of this incoming class to represent the United States at the recently completed FINA Youth World Championships. An experienced member of the 2012 USA Cadet Women's Team and 2013 USA Youth National Team in addition to her work in bringing the U.S. a gold medal at August's Youth World Championships in Madrid, she is also a two-time NISCA/Speedo All-American.

"Kat plays a relentless, explosive style and is always pressuring opponents," Tanner added. "She is a superb goal scorer because she possesses rare shooting ability combined with uncommon patience for a young player."

She helped San Ramon Valley High win three consecutive CIF North Coast Section Division I titles and was named East Bay Girls Water Polo Player of the Year in 2013. A league and section MVP in both 2012 and 2013, Klass was also the 2012 NCS Scholar-Athlete of the Year and is a two-time recipient of the Science Department Academic Achievement Award at San Ramon Valley.

Her father, Craig Klass ('87), was a three-time men's water polo All-American for the Cardinal (1984-86), was the country's Player of the Year as a senior in 1986 and a two-time Olympian for the US at both the 1988 Seoul Games and the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Sophia Stefan was a member of the USA Cadet National Team in 2012 and a part of USA Youth National Team training in both 2013 and 2014.

"Sophia's physical presence and poise, especially with the ball, makes her a great fit for this level of polo," Tanner said. "She is extremely determined in all facets of the game and played a substantial role in her club team's impressive run through Junior Olympics this summer."

A member of Rose Bowl Aquatics, her club team was the gold medalist at the 2014 Junior Olympics and finished third at the 2014 California Cup. They also were silver medalists at the 2013 U.S. Club Championships.

Twins Cassidy and Mackenzie Wiley from Coronado round out Stanford's most recent recruiting haul.

Cassidy was named to the All-CIF San Diego Section first team as a junior and picked to the second team in 2013. She was also tabbed First Team All-Western League each of the past two years, is a three-time team MVP and two-time team captain.

"Cassidy plays either side of the pool effectively, is a clever passer and forceful finisher," Tanner said. "She is a brilliant athlete who raises her game when circumstances require it."

A multi-talented athlete, Cassidy was also a four-year letterwinner in volleyball, earning first team all-league honors earlier this month.

Her sister, Mackenzie, was similarly an All-CIF San Diego Section First Team selection each of the past two years and a First Team All-Western League honoree. With Coronado Aquatics Club this past August, Wiley won MVP accolades at the Hawaii Invitational and her squad claimed the tournament title with a 13-12 victory over New Zealand's Junior National Team.

"Mackenzie presents major matchup challenges for opposing defenses," Tanner said. "She has a wonderful combination of power and finesse, making her effective in front of the goal and on the perimeter."

Another multi-sport star, Wiley was a four-year volleyball letterwinner and team captain, as well as the squad's MVP as a junior.

— Stanford Athletics

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