It's early in the season and there are other national contenders out there, though women's college water polo usually gets no better than top-ranked Stanford and No. 2 UCLA.
The Cardinal won the first meeting, 10-6, Sunday to capture the Stanford Invitational championship, beating the Bruins a fourth straight time in a rematch of last year's NCAA title match.
Stanford (6-0) plays a pair of nonconference matches against host Fresno Pacific and San Diego State in two weeks as preparation for the UC Irvine Invitational, which will include powerhouses USC (2-0), Arizona State (7-0), California (7-1) and UCLA (9-1), later in February.
The Cardinal beat San Jose State, 11-8, earlier in the day in the program's 500th victory. Stanford coach John Tanner is the only coach the program has known and he's 501-81 (.861) all-time.
Stanford led by three at halftime but the Bruins rallied to within 7-6 entering the fourth quarter. UCLA never scored again as Gabby Stone, who made 10 saves in the game, and her teammates worked to keep the Bruins at bay.
Jamie Neushul controlled on the right side of the pool and guided a pass in the direction of Maggie Steffens at the far side of the cage. With two defenders draped over her, Steffens used a deft touch to guide Neushul's pass by UCLA goalkeeper Sami Hill and put Stanford up, 8-6.
With just over four minutes left in the game, Steffens gathered mid-tank and fed Kiley Neushul on the left. The elder Neushul lofted in a pass for Ashley Grossman, who had worked herself into position between her defender at the cage at two meters. The senior-to-senior connection worked and Grossman gathered Neushul's assist before turning and firing her second of the game past Hill at 4:11.
Kiley Neushul got her mark in the scoring column with a 6-on-5 tally at 3:20, beating Hill to her left with a low rocket. Stanford's 10th and final goal of the game gave the Cardinal its highest total against UCLA since an 11-7 victory in the 2013 MPSF Semifinals.
Anna Yelizarova led Stanford with her second hat trick of the weekend, including a nifty look-away goal at 6:21 in the second quarter.
Nine Cardinal players scored against the Spartans, including six different players in the first period.
Yelizarova opened the game by converting a penalty at 6:57 and Grossman followed with a score of her own mere moments later (6:31). After a Spartan goal, Stanford recorded four in a row, from Jamie Neushul (4:33), Rachel Johnson (3:02) and Katie Dudley (1:57) and a successful penalty from Steffens (3:25).
Ryan Davies has plenty to celebrate beside a birthday. He can also celebrate the clinching win in No. 25 Stanford's come-from-behind victory over host Boise State, 18-17, in a Pac-12 meet on Sunday.
The Cardinal (4-1 in the Pac-12, 10-2 overall) won the final three matches to complete the unlikely rally.
Davies, on his 21st birthday, recorded an 8-4 decision over Xavier Callejas at 184 pounds, the final bout of the meet.
Davies fell behind 4-2 after the first period. He chose down to start the second and was able to register an escape. Callejas chose to start in the neutral position to begin the third, leaving the door open for Davies. A takedown by Davies, which went under official review, stood and he finished with three near fall points as time ran out.
The teams traded wins to open, with redshirt sophomore Josh Marchok, who was in the line-up for the first time since Jan. 10, turning in a 6-2 decision over Gaylen Edmo at 285 pounds
Redshirt freshman Connor Schram also won at 133 pounds, and improved to 11-1 on the season.
The Broncos took the lead 11-6 as seventh-ranked Geordan Martinez registered an 18-2 technical fall over Stanford freshman Mason Pengilly at 141 pounds. Pengilly, who is listed as a 125-pounder for the Cardinal, was filling in for the injured Isaiah Locsin.
Redshirt senior Garrett Schaner cut Boise State's lead to two with an 8-2 decision over Jake Velarde at 149 pounds. Down 2-1 heading into the second period, Schaner scored an escape and a takedown in the second to gain control of the match. Velarde chose to start in the neutral position in the third and Schaner (17-12) finished him off with another takedown.
A surprising pin by Boise State's Steven Hernandez over Stanford's Maxwell Hvolbek, in 34 seconds, at 157 pounds gave the Broncos the 17-9 advantage.
Jim Wilson, ranked 13th in the nation, sparked the comeback with a 5-3 decision over Chris Castillo at 165 pounds.
He trailed, 3-1, going into the final period. He started in the down position and quickly scored an escape cutting the lead to 3-2. Wilson also received a point for stalling called on Castillo.
Wilson then recorded a takedown in the final seconds of the match to win it.
Redshirt freshman Keaton Subjeck posted a 6-2 decision over Austin Dewey at 174 pounds, setting the stage for Davies' heroics.
Stanford hosts San Francisco State next Sunday at 2 p.m. in its final home meet of the season.