The second-ranked Stanford women's water polo team opens the season this weekend with a trio of regular-season games at the Cal Cup in Berkeley. The Cardinal will play No. 11 Long Beach State on Saturday at 9:45 a.m., No. 17 Fresno State on Sunday at the same time and No. 13 San Jose State later Sunday afternoon at 2:15 p.m. Stanford will also play UCLA in an exhibition on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Denied in its big for back-to-back national championships last May, Stanford will be in a strong position as it looks to reclaim the crown this season. The Cardinal returns its four leading goal scorers in Makenzie Fischer (67), Kat Klass (39), Madison Berggren (36) and Aria Fischer (35) and more than 80 percent of its total scoring offense.
At the other end of the pool, Stanford must replace Julia Hermann in the cage as part of a class of four departed seniors. Hermann was a third-team All-American last season, finished second in the MPSF in goals against average (5.35) and had five of her seven double-digit save performances in the season's final seven games.
Stanford's six-person freshman class includes Youth National Team goalkeeper Thea Walsh and U.S. Junior National Team members Chloe Harbilas and Ryann Neushul. Neushul is the youngest sister of Stanford alums Kiley and Jamie Neushul, who each won three national championships with the Cardinal and combined for five first-team All-America honors.
A 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Makenzie Fischer put together a superb sophomore campaign in which she paced Stanford with the fifth-most goals in school history. She also led the MPSF, averaging 2.79 goals per game, the best for the Cardinal over the past decade (records since 2009).
Fischer, named to the NCAA All-Tournament first team, was dominant down the stretch. In the season's final 12 games, she scored 44 times (3.67). Fischer had multi-score performances in 19 of Stanford's 24 games and has scored at least two goals in 37 of the 50 collegiate games she's played.
The first team All-American was one of three finalists for the 2018 Peter J. Cutino Award and her 3.99 GPA also garnered her a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-District Women's At-Large first team.
Aria Fischer earned a second-team All-America nod in her debut season at Stanford. in which she was a two-time MPSF/Kap7 Newcomer of the Week and finished fourth on the team with 35 goals. She was 13th in the conference in goals per game (1.46), scored in eight of the Cardinal's final nine games and led all MPSF freshmen in scoring in league contests with a 1.60 goals per game average.
Fischer, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, also earned All-NCAA Tournament second team, All-MPSF second team and MPSF All-Newcomer accolades in 2018.
Kat Klass received her second All-America accolade last year to go along with the second-team nod she garnered as a freshman in 2016. The junior was second on the team with 39 goals and ninth in the MPSF in scoring average (1.63). She scored in all but three games last season, had 11 multi-goal performances and four hat tricks.
Klass, on the 2018 NCAA All-Tournament second team, was the Cardinal's second-leading scorer at the NCAA championship in Los Angeles, pouring in six goals, including three in the semifinal win over No. 3 California.
Stanford hosts the MPSF championship from April 26-28 and the NCAA championship from May 10-12.