Sports

Steffens, Neushul among top three Cutino Award finalists

 

Stanford's Kiley Neushul and Maggie Steffens were named two of three finalists for the prestigious Peter J. Cutino Award, The Olympic Club of San Francisco announced Tuesday.

This award is given to the outstanding female and male collegiate water polo players in the United States as voted by the coaches of the Division I schools.

Five Stanford women have earned the honor six times, including each of the p0ast four years. Neushul, the 2012 winner, is attempting to become the Cardinal's second two-time recipient of the award, joining Annika Dries (2011 and 2014). Brenda Villa (2002), Jackie Frank (2003) and Melissa Seidemann (2013) are the other Stanford student-athletes to achieve the accolade, which was instituted in 1999.

The winners will be announced at the 16th Annual Cutino Awards Dinner to be held Saturday, June 6 at The Olympic Club's City Clubhouse.

Considered the Heisman Trophy of water polo, the Cutino Award is given annually in honor of the late Peter J. Cutino, the former California and The Olympic Club coach, who passed away in September 2004. He is in the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame, won "Water Polo Coach of the Year" 17 times and led the Golden Bears to eight NCAA Championships. In his career, Cutino also coached in the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games, the Water Polo World Championships and the World University Games.

On Sunday, Neushul and Steffens led Stanford to the program's fourth national championship in the past five seasons with a 7-6 victory over UCLA at Avery Aquatic Center. The Cardinal, which has won five NCAA crowns in program history, also became the first host institution to claim the title in the 15 years since the tournament's inception in 2001.

The NCAA title was also the 106th won by a Stanford team and extended the school's national-best streak of years with at least one NCAA championship to 39, dating to 1976-77.

Neushul, a senior, capped her collegiate career by converting a game-winning penalty shot with 11 seconds remaining to send the capacity crowd into a frenzy. She scored five of Stanford's seven goals in the championship and was named to the All-Tournament first team after scoring nine goals in three games.

A three-time All-American, Neushul's 222 career goals are third in Cardinal history. Her 63 in 2015 were a personal best and are tied for seventh in Stanford single-season history. The communication major scored in all but one of Stanford's 27 games, putting up 18 multi-goal efforts and 12 hat tricks. She'll leave The Farm a three-time national champion after guiding Stanford to a 105-8 record over the past four years.

Steffens was previously a finalist for the Cutino Award in both 2013 and 2014. The Most Valuable Player at the NCAA Championship, Steffens scored seven goals for the Cardinal, assisted on four others, and nabbed six steals. The 2015 MPSF Player of the Year, Steffens finished her junior season with 53 goals and is 11th in Stanford history with 164 in her career. She posted 17 multi-goal efforts in 2015, including nine hat tricks.

In early December, Steffens was named the FINA Women's Water Polo Athlete of the Year for the second time. The science, technology and society major is the first female two-time winner of that award, which was inaugurated in 2010. She was also named the FINA Women's Water Polo Athlete of the Year in 2012 before making her collegiate debut with the Cardinal.

UCLA goalkeeper Sami Hill is the other female finalist for this year's Peter J. Cutino award.

Stanford also has two of the three finalists on the men's side in junior Bret Bonanni and senior Alex Bowen.

— Stanford Athletics

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