Stanford women a consensus pick to win MPSF polo title


Defending national champion Stanford collected the maximum possible 36 points and first-place votes to top the 2015 MPSF Women's Water Polo Coaches' Poll, which was released by the conference Wednesday.

UCLA was tabbed second with 31 points and secured the only other first-place vote while USC garnered 26 points and was selected third. California, Arizona State, San Jose State and CSU Bakersfield rounded out the preseason picks.

The Cardinal, which finished 25-1 overall last season and 6-0 in league play, has not lost an MPSF game since 2009, a stretch of 33 straight regular-season conference outings.

Stanford enters the 2015 season in search of its fourth national championship in the past five seasons and has the pieces in place to accomplish the feat. Gone is Peter J. Cutino Award winner Annika Dries and her 48 goals, but the Cardinal returns four of its top five scorers, including the potent one-two punch of senior Kiley Neushul and junior Maggie Steffens. Both were 2014 ACWPC First Team All-Americans and the duo combined for 102 goals a season ago. Steffens was also recently named the FINA World Water Polo Player of the Year, her second time claiming the sport's highest honor.

Ashley Grossman's 45 goals and Anna Yelizarova's 38 are also back for Stanford, along with Gabby Stone and her 5.91 goals-against average in the cage. Grossman and Stone, along with sophomore Jamie Neushul (20 goals) were 2014 ACWPC All-America Honorable Mention selections.

The Cardinal opens its season at the LouStrong Memorial at San Jose State Jan. 16-17. Stanford plays exhibitions against China and Brazil on Friday, Jan. 16 before beginning regular-season action against Pacific and Cal State Monterey Bay on Jan. 17.

— Stanford Athletics

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