Future Stanford women's water polo student-athletes Makenzie Fischer and Madison Berggren along with Cardinal alumna Melissa Seidemann helped the USA Women's National Team to its first gold medal at the FINA Intercontinental Tournament in Auckland, New Zealand over the weekend.
Fischer, who along with Berggren signed her National Letter of Intent in mid-November, was named to the All-Tournament Team after scoring 15 goals in the United States' six wins over Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, Japan, Canada and Australia.
Sunday's championship was a rematch of the gold medal final from 2014, but with a different result. Team USA outlasted Australia in a shootout, 12-10, to pick up its first major championship of 2015.
A close match throughout, the teams were tied 3-3 after the first quarter and 5-5 at halftime. The United States was up 8-7 through three, but Australia knotted things up in the fourth to lead to the shootout.
Team USA dominated the extra session to win gold. Fischer scored three times in regulation and then added one of her team's four shootout goals. Seidemann, who rattled the cage seven times in New Zealand, scored once in the title game.
"We made some critical defensive stops in the first quarter to keep it close, otherwise Australia would have got away, Team USA coach Adam Krikorian said. "A lot of players were playing out of position. Both teams were tired after six matches."
The United States started the tournament with some dominant late-game action in group play against Brazil and China. Tied 3-3 at the half in its opener, Team USA used a 5-0 third quarter to beat Brazil 9-4. Seidemann and Fischer each scored twice in the victory.
The next day against China a 2-2 game entering the final quarter ended up an 8-2 win for the United States following a 6-0 final frame. Team USA received a pair of goals from Fischer and one from Berggren in the win.
A 15-6 win over Kazakhstan closed out group play on Thursday, before a 17-0 quarterfinal win over Japan and an 11-9 triumph over Canada set up Sunday's final shootout.
While just a few with Stanford ties represented their country in New Zealand, the entire Cardinal squad will do so at the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea this July.
On Friday, Stanford officials announced that the university's women's water polo program will represent the United States at the biennial event, which incorporates both educational and cultural aspects into 12 days of sports competitions and features more than 9,000 student-athletes and officials from over 170 countries.
The Cardinal will begin its quest for another collegiate national championship on Friday at noon against Princeton (30-3).
Stanford is hosting the National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship for the third time and looking to break a streak that has yet to see a host win the NCAA Championship since the tournament began in 2001.