Jan. 28, 2009
Complete Release in PDF Format
STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 2 Stanford women's water polo team (0-0, 0-0 MPSF) opens up the 2009 season Thursday night, heading about 15 miles south to Santa Clara where the Cardinal will battle the Broncos (1-0) at SCU's Sullivan Aquatic Center.
About Santa Clara
Santa Clara (1-0) heads into Thursday night's contest after posting a season-opening 18-12 victory over CS East Bay last Saturday. Junior Jenny Knutson scored four goals in the game for the Broncos to lead 11 different SCU scorers. The Broncos are coached by Keith Wilbur in his seventh season and will also participate in the NorCal Cup over the weekend after Thursday's game against Stanford. Santa Clara is led by tri-captains Am and Allie Lamb, and Claire Linney.
In The National Rankings
Despite not playing a game yet, the Cardinal inched closer to the top spot in the nation, retaining the No. 2 spot, just one point behind top-ranked USC.
Coming Off Of Solid 2008 Season
Stanford enters this season following a strong showing in 2008. Last season the Cardinal turned in a 27-5 overall record, an 11-1 mark in the MPSF and a third-place national finish despite having lost one of its leading scorers from 2007, beginning the season with a pair of freshman goalkeepers and missing its top two-meter player in Jessica Steffens due to her being with the U.S. Olympic Team.
By the end of the season, the Cardinal boasted four APWPC All-Americans in junior Lauren Silver (first team), senior Jackie Gauthier (second team), goalie Amber Oland (third team) and sophomore Kelly Eaton (honorable mention). In addition, Oland was named the MPSF Newcomer of the Year and head coach John Tanner earned MPSF Co-Coach of the Year honors.
Stanford Season Openers
Thursday's game at Santa Clara marks the second straight season in which Stanford opened the year against the Broncos. Last Feb. 3, the Cardinal posted a 16-6 victory over the Broncos at Avery Aquatic Center. Lauren Silver led Stanford's eight scorers with five goals while Kim Krueger posted a hat trick with three goals in her first collegiate contest.
Overall, the Cardinal has won every season opener dating back to the 1998, John Tanner's first season at the helm, making for a perfect 11-0 mark in openers in that time.
Slow And Steady Start To The Season
While Stanford is starting a season in the month of January for the first time in the John Tanner Era, the Cardinal will not move into a full-scale slate until next weekend. Following Thursday's opener at Santa Clara, the Cardinal will not return to competition until next Friday, Feb. 6, when it hosts the No. 4 Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine, then hosts the Stanford Invitational on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 7-8.
Three All-Americans Return
The Cardinal returns three of its four All-Americans from a year ago in 2009, as driver Lauren Silver (first team) returns for her senior season, driver Kelly Eaton (honorable mention) comes back for her junior year and sophomore goalkeeper Amber Oland (third team) begins her second year in the cage.
From China Back To Stanford
Another major player returning to the Stanford fold in 2009 is two-meter defender Jessica Steffens, a silver medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games with the U.S. women's water polo team. Steffens redshirted the entire 2008 season due to her training with the U.S. team, and returns to Stanford with not only her silver medal but also a valuable amount of top-level international experience to draw upon and share with teammates. In Beijing, Steffens scored five goals, including a pair in the Olympic Final against the Netherlands, and was the only U.S. woman named to the Olympic All-Star Team.
The Silver Lining
The 2009 season also marks the final year in the illustrious career of Stanford driver Lauren Silver, the team's leading scorer each of the past three seasons. Over those previous three years on The Farm, Silver has scored 187 goals, including a season-high of 71 last year. Additionally, Silver was one of three finalists last year for the Peter J. Cutino Award, given annually to the top women's collegiate water polo player.
Seniors To Step It Up
Stanford will rely on its four-woman senior class to lead the way to the 2009 National Collegiate Championship at College Park, Md. this May. Seniors Lauren Silver, Koree Blyleven, Kira Hillman and Heather West combined to score 156 goals last season, 44.2 percent of the Cardinal's overall offensive output. Blyleven, Hillman and Silver, all drivers, will be at the forefront of Stanford's scoring attack, while West, a two-meter defender, will help anchor the Cardinal's stingy defense in front of goalie Amber Oland.
Talented Freshmen Eager For Their Chance
Combined with the 15 returners this season for the Cardinal are six talented and hungry freshmen eager to help get Stanford to the National Collegiate Championship in 2009. This year's freshman class includes U.S. Youth National Team members Cassie Churnside (driver), Alyssa Lo (driver), and Melissa Seidemann (two-meter offense), along with prep all-section picks Mimi Bury (driver), Monica Coughlan (two-meter defender) and Pallavi Menon (driver).
Among The MPSF Leaders
The MPSF will release its first set of conference stats following this weekend's contests.
Stanford Women's Water Polo Players Shine At Olympics
Head coach John Tanner saw three of his current and former charges succeed at the sport's highest level, the 2008 Olympic Games, this past summer as Brenda Villa (`03), Alison Gregorka (`07) and Jessica Steffens (`10) helped the U.S. claim the silver medal in Beijing. The Cardinal trio accounted for 19 of the team's 50 goals, with Villa being the team's co-leader with nine. Gregorka and Steffens each made their Olympic debut, while Villa made her third appearance in the Games and captained the U.S. squad.
Head Coach John Tanner
Head coach John Tanner enters his 12th year at the helm of the Cardinal program in 2009. Tanner, a five-time MPSF Coach of the Year selection, has accumulated a record of 271-48 (.850) on The Farm over that time. He has led Stanford to every NCAA Championship tournament since its inception in 2001, and has won a national title (2002) as well as turning in four national runner-up finishes (2001, `03, `05, `07). Over his previous 11 seasons guiding the Stanford program, Tanner has also produced 11 U.S. National Team members as well as six Olympians, including Brenda Villa, Alison Gregorka and Jessica Steffens at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.