Previewing the upcoming season earlier this week, Stanford women’s water polo head coach John Tanner said that his team was chomping at the bit to play someone besides each other in a game. It showed Saturday as the second-ranked Cardinal scored a combined 32 goals in wins over No. 17 UC Davis and No. 6 Hawai’i on the first day of the Stanford Invitational.
The Cardinal (2-0) opened the tournament with a 16-3 win over UC Davis (1-5) before returning in the afternoon to cruise past Hawai’i (0-4), 16-5, at Avery Aquatic Center. Stanford will finish Bracket A play Sunday at 8 a.m. against No. 5 UC Irvine, with the winner advancing to the tournament title game in the afternoon.
Junior Kiley Neushul led the Cardinal with eight goals over the two games, including five in the opener, with Anna Yelizarova netting five and Ashley Grossman four to pace the scoring side of things. Stanford’s defense was on point for much of the day, especially early on, as the Aggies and Rainbow Wahine combined for just three first-half goals.
All three Cardinal goalies were in action Saturday, with sophomore Gabby Stone starting both contests and playing five periods total, making eight saves. Junior Emily Dorst played two full periods and most of a third, making seven saves while freshman Julia Hermann made her debut with a pair of stops over the final minutes of the morning win against UC Davis.
Stanford used its edge in firepower to race out to big leads of 8-1 and 8-0 against UC Davis and Hawai’i, respectively. In the morning contest, the Aggies’ Keelia Houston matched Kiley Neushul’s opener within three minutes of the start, but from there the Cardinal went into another gear. Grossman scored nine seconds after Houston’s goal to put Stanford back in front, then Yelizarova and Neushul netted goals before freshman Sophia Monaghan scored her first collegiate goal to make it 5-1 at the end of the opening frame.
Steffens fired home a penalty shot 16 seconds into the second period before Neushul netted her third and Yelizarova her second minutes later to complete the seven-goal run. Hannah Curran interrupted the Cardinal run for the Aggies, but Yelizarova finished her hat trick, and Neushul scored her fourth to make it 10-2 at the break.
The junior driver would get her fifth on the power play for the first goal of the second half, starting a 4-0 run in the third period that iced the game. Cory Dodson and Melena Masson would add goals later, and Rachel Johnson would tack on the final two.
Stone made a pair of saves in the first half before giving way to Dorst to start the second half. Dorst stopped five shots during her action, then ceded the final three minutes to Hermann.
Annika Dries opened up the Cardinal’s afternoon run against Hawai’i with a pair of goals within the opening 1:52. Neushul would continue with the hot hand from there, scoring all three of her goals before the end of the frame as Stanford took control leading 5-0.
Grossman, Lexie Ross and Yelizarova got it to 8-0 in the second before Danielle Lewis got the Rainbow Wahine on the board 4:01 before the break. Steffens and Yelizarova would score before the horn to make it 10-1 Cardinal at the break.
Freshmen Dani Jackovich and Jamie Neushul would net the first goals of their Stanford careers in the second half, with Jackovich getting a pair as the Cardinal rolled to the win. Lewis would tack on two more for Hawai’i to notch her hat trick.
UC Davis – 1 1 0 1 = 3
Stanford – 5 5 4 2 = 16
Stanford Goal Scorers: K. Neushul 5, Grossman 3, Yelizarova 3, Dodson, Dries, Masson, Monaghan, Steffens
UC Davis Goal Scorers: Curran, Houston, Tocchini
Goalie Saves: Stone 2, Dorst 5, Hermann 2 (S); Wilding 3, Cameron 1 (UCD)
Hawai’i – 0 1 2 2 = 5
Stanford – 5 5 3 3 = 16
Stanford Goal Scorers: K. Neushul 3, Dries 2, Jackovich 2, Steffens 2, Yelizarova 2, K. Dodson, Grossman, J. Neushul, Papa, Ross
Hawai’i Goal Scorers: Lewis 3, Edwards, Molde
Goalie Saves: Stone 6, Dorst 2 (S); Carlson 2, Logan 2 (H)