Stanford women’s water polo swept the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) postseason awards Monday, with senior two-meter Annika Dries being named Player of the Year and head coach John Tanner claiming the Coach of the Year award. Dries was also among seven Stanford players to earn All-America honors.
Dries and drivers Kiley Neushul and Maggie Steffens were all named to the first team. Senior driver Kaley Dodson earned a third-team nod while goalie Gabby Stone, two-meter Ashley Grossman and driver Jamie Neushul were each named honorable mention. Both Dodson and Dries earned their fourth straight All-America nods, Kiley Neushul her third, and Grossman and Steffens their second apiece.
It also marks the fourth straight year that a member of the Cardinal has claimed the organization’s national player of the year honor, as Dries had previously captured the award in 2011, and was followed by Neushul (2012) and Melissa Seidemann (2013).
The coach of the year honor is also the third in four years for Tanner, who previously took home the award in 2011 and 2012. Tanner guided the Cardinal to a 25-1 record in 2014 as well as the program’s fourth NCAA title and third in four years, and first MPSF Championship crown since 2006. Under his watch Stanford ended the campaign on a 16-game winning streak.
The player of the year honor caps an outstanding 2014 season for Dries, as she also captured her second-career Peter J. Cutino Award in late May. Dries finished the year with 48 goals, third-best on the team, and posted eight hat tricks among her 12 multi-goal games. She also doubled as one of the top defenders in the country, providing shutdown defense at the two-meter spot for a Cardinal unit that allowed just 5.81 goals per game. She saved her best for the final weekend of the season, scoring eight goals and playing her usual stellar defense as Stanford went 3-0 at the National Collegiate Championship in Los Angeles to claim the NCAA title. Dries was named the tournament Most Valuable Player for her efforts, just as she was at the MPSF Championship two weeks prior in helping lead Stanford to the MPSF tournament title.
Neushul and Steffens provided the main punch for the Cardinal offense, as the two first-teamers shared the team scoring crown with 51 goals in 2014. The pair combined for 14 hat tricks, eight from Neushul and six from Steffens, to power an offense that averaged 13.31 goals per game. Each player earned her second first-team nod, for Steffens it being her second consecutive and for Neushul hers sandwiched a second-team selection in 2013.
Dodson was named to this year’s third team after two previous honorable mentions (2011 and 2013) and a first-team selection in 2012. The Seal Beach native scored 24 goals this season, including two in Stanford’s 9-5 NCAA title-winning victory over UCLA on May 11. On the other side of the pool she was one of the Cardinal’s top perimeter defenders as well.
Stone, in her first season as the Cardinal’s No. 1 goalie, proved more than equal to the task, making 147 saves (7.64 per game) with a goals-against average of just 5.91. Over 24 games Stone allowed just 114 goals, and over the Cardinal’s three wins at the National Collegiate Championship conceded just a total of 15 goals, or five per contest.
Earning her second All-America honorable mention, Grossman gave the Cardinal the nation’s top 1-2 interior combo in pairing with Dries at the two-meter spot. Grossman scored 45 goals, fourth-best on the team, and collected five hat tricks among 14 multi-goal games.
Collecting her first All-America honor following her first season on The Farm was freshman driver Jamie Neushul. The youngest of the Neushul sisters on the team, Jamie scored 20 goals and provided strong perimeter defense, especially on the 5-on-6 for the Cardinal. Despite missing the National Collegiate Championship due to a broken hand, Neushul still contributed to key wins over UCLA and USC as well as the Cardinal’s run to the MPSF Championship crown.