Stanford travels to Los Angeles this weekend for the MPSF Championship, set to be held at USC’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center. As the top seed in the seven-team draw, the Cardinal receives a bye into Saturday’s semifinal round, where at 2:30 p.m. it will take on the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal between No. 4 California and No. 5 San Jose State. Stanford seeks its first MPSF Championship crown since 2006.
All games at this weekend's MPSF Championship will be streamed online through USC's Championship Central website, which can be found here.
Entering the 2014 MPSF Championship, Stanford has previously captured four conference tournament titles (2000, 2001, 2003, 2006) and appeared in the title game 11 times. Since its last title in 2006, the Cardinal has lost in the championship game four times (2007, 2009, 2012, 2013) and thrice finished third (2008, 2010, 2011).
Stanford, with a bye into Saturday’s semifinal round, will face the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal matchup between No. 4 seed California (17-7) and No. 5 seed San Jose State (20-11). This year, the Cardinal owns a combined record of 3-0 against the two teams, with two of the victories coming against California.
California has gone 4-6 over its past 10 games entering this weekend’s MPSF Championship, most recently dropping the Big Splash to the Cardinal by a score of 9-6 on Saturday. The Golden Bears are led in the pool by the the MPSF’s leading scorer, Dora Antal, who averages 3.10 goals per game and has 65 goals total. In the cage, Madeline Trabucco owns a goals-against average of 8.05.
San Jose State brings momentum into the weekend, having won seven of its past nine games. The Spartans earned the No. 5 seed by defeating Cal State Bakersfield this past Friday, and, despite a three-way tie at 2-4 with California and Arizona State in the MPSF standings, ending up second in the three-way tiebreaker. The Spartans are led by the play of Clara Espar Llaquet (2.97 goals per game) and Rae Lekness (2.45), who rank second and fourth, respectively, in the MPSF. In goal, Katelynn Thompson is fourth with a goals-against average of 6.23.
Stanford has scored 288 goals so far this season and ranks second in the MPSF with 13.71 goals per game. A big reason for the Cardinal’s offensive prowess is the versatility of its scoring threats, as five players have scored at least 30 goals. Junior Kiley Neushul leads the pack with 42 goals while Ashley Grossman has scored 40. Also over the 30-goal mark are Maggie Steffens (38), Annika Dries (37) and Anna Yelizarova (34), giving the Cardinal five 30-goal scorers in a season for the fifth time (1997, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2014).
The Cardinal defense has been on point against some of the best competition in the country over the past month, helping fuel Stanford’s 11-game winning streak. That streak has included wins over each of the other top-five teams in the country (USC, UCLA, Arizona State, California) in which the Cardinal allowed a combined total of just 23 goals (5.75 goals per game). Field players such as Steffens and freshman Jamie Neushul have come up with key field blocks on the defensive end, while Dries has proven one of the top two-meter defenders in the country. In the cage, sophomore Gabby Stone ranks third in the MPSF with a 6.12 goals-against average, and the Cardinal defense is third in the conference allowing just 5.95 goals per game.