April 30, 2006
Irvine, Calif. -
After defeating No. 7 UCI on Friday and battling past No. 2 UCLA yesterday, the No. 3 Stanford Cardinal were in action at Irvine's Anteater Aquatics Complex for their third straight match on Sunday. This time, the Cardinal were in search of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Women's Water Polo Championship Title against No. 5 Hawaii, and Head Coach John Tanner's squad proved up to the task. Stanford used a steady offensive attack to clinch the 6-3 victory over the Rainbow Wahine, and in so doing, earned the title of MPSF Conference Champions. The win improved Stanford's record 22-4 and 10-2 in the MPSF, while Hawaii dropped to 17-10 overall and 7-5 in MPSF play.
Stanford and Hawaii faced off once during the regular season on March 28 in Honolulu, with Stanford taking away a 12-6 win. UH was out to prove that Sunday's rematch would not come as easily for the Cardinal, and the Rainbow Wahine jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Iefke Van Belkum's goal at 3:21 in the opening frame.
The Cardinal battled back with 3 unanswered goals over the next six minutes of play, grabbing a 3-2 lead with 4:05 to go in the first half. Juniors Alison Gregorka (Ann Arbor, MI) and Katie Hansen (Coronado, CA) and freshman Lauren Silver (Long Beach, CA) put shots into the back of the net for the Cardinal.
Hawaii tied the score at 3-3 with a goal from Kelly Mason with 1:37 to go in the half, but junior Christina Hewko (Newport Beach, CA) got the lead back for Stanford with a goal at the 0:41 mark. The Cardinal took a 4-3 lead into halftime and never looked back.
After the break, Stanford turned up the defensive intensity and held the Rainbow Wahine scoreless for the final 14 minutes of play. Silver scored her second goal of the game in the third period to give the Cardinal a 5-3 lead, and senior Nancy El-Sakkary (Dollar des Ormeaux, Quebec) capped the scoring with a 4th quarter goal that made it 6-3.
Junior goalkeeper Meridith McColl
(Mission Viejo, CA) finished with 7 saves. Silver's two scores gave her 47 for the season, extending her team lead to two over second-leading scorer Hansen, who now has 45 goals.
The win comes especially sweet for Coach Tanner, whose squad lost to UCLA 9-5 in the MPSF Finals last season. In all, Tanner has led the Cardinal to 4 MPSF titles (2000, 2001, 2003, 2006). Up next, the Cardinal will await seedings for the NCAA Tournament, which will take place on the campus of UC Davis from May 12-14.
MPSF Championship Final
No. 5 Hawaii (17-10) 2 1 0 0 = 3
No. 3 Stanford (22-4) 2 2 1 1 = 6
Hawaii Goals: Bagnall 1, Van Belkum 1, Mason 1.
Hawaii Saves: De Nooy 5
Stanford Goals: Silver 2, Gregorka 1, Hansen 1, Hewko 1, El-Sakkary 1.
Stanford Saves: McColl 7.