Sports

Stanford women's team sweeps national water polo honors

 

On the heels of its fourth NCAA Championship in the past five seasons, Stanford women's water polo swept the national postseason awards when the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) announced its 2015 All-America Teams on Friday.

John Tanner was named the ACWPC Coach of the Year for the fourth time while junior Maggie Steffens claimed her first ACWPC Player of the Year honor.

The Cardinal has boasted the country's national player of the year at the conclusion of each of the past five seasons. Annika Dries won in 2011 and 2014, Kiley Neushul claimed the award in 2012 and Melissa Seidemann was the top vote-getter in 2013. Brenda Villa was Stanford's first winner in 2001. Jackie Frank followed by nabbing the honor in both 2002 and 2003.

Stanford has swept both coach and player of the year accolades in each season of a championship during its recent title run. Tanner previously was tabbed as the best at his craft in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

With Tanner at the helm, Stanford is the only women's water polo program in the nation to have competed in all 15 NCAA Championships since its inception in 2001, and has finished in the top three in the country each season since he became head coach in 1998. He has posted a career coaching record of 456-64 on The Farm, including a mark of 159-12 the past six years.

Steffens and Tanner headlined a group of six Stanford women's water polo players that claimed spots on various ACWPC All-America Teams. The Cardinal had three of the seven-member ACWPC All-America First Team in Steffens plus seniors Kiley Neushul and Ashley Grossman.

The Most Valuable Player at the 2015 NCAA Championship, Steffens scored seven goals for the Cardinal, assisted on four others, and nabbed six steals. The 2015 MPSF Player of the Year, she 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 American beat out five other finalists. 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.

On May 10, Neushul 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. 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 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 tournament's first team after scoring nine goals in three games.

A two-time Peter J. Cutino Award recipient (2012 and 2015), 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 leaves The Farm a three-time national champion after guiding Stanford to a 105-8 record over the last four years.

Grossman moved up to the first team for the first time in her career after honorable mention nods in 2012 and 2014. A dominant two-meter force for the Cardinal, she was second on the team with 54 goals and eighth in the conference averaging 2.00 per game. Also on the NCAA All-Tournament First Team with Steffens and Neushul, Grossman finished her career 10th in Stanford history with 169 career goals.

All three are currently on the USA Senior Women's National Team as it continues preparations for the Pan Am Games in Toronto in July. Their work has thus far led the United States to a 10-0 record in the month of June and gold medals at the Kunshan Cup in China and the FINA World League Super Final in Shanghai.

Gabby Stone was selected an ACWPC Third Team All-American following a season in which she averaged 8.16 saves per game and posted a 5.07 goals against average, good enough for second in the MPSF.

Jordan Raney and Jamie Neushul rounded out Stanford's honorees with their spots on the ACWPC All-America Honorable Mention squad. Raney, the MPSF Newcomer of the Year, set a league record by bringing home five MPSF/Kap7 Newcomer of the Week awards this season. The sophomore Neushul, who was also an honorable mention All-American as a freshman in 2014, scored 28 times, including two hat tricks as part of nine multi-goal efforts.

Stone, Raney and Jamie Neushul will depart with the Cardinal on Sunday as Stanford heads to Gwangju, South Korea to represent the United States at the 2015 World University Games.

— Stanford Athletics

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