WWP: Trojans get in way of Stanford three-peat

Kiley Neushul  former Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara Aquatic Club player helped lead  Stanford Cardinal to a third consecutive NCAA Championship game

Kiley Neushul former Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara Aquatic Club player helped lead Stanford to a third consecutive NCAA Championship game

Alexis Lee (SBAC/VHS) and Kiley Neushul (SBAC/DPHS) helped lead the second ranked Stanford Cardinal to a third consecutive NCAA Championship game at Harvard?s Blodgett pool on Sunday. To achieve Stanford?s first ever ?Three peat? in Women?s Water Polo the team had to overcome the top ranked Trojans of USC.

Stanford blasted out of the gate scoring on their first possession and then building a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. USC responded by drawing exclusions and scoring on two consecutive power plays. Kiley Neushul?s shot in the second quarter helped the Cardinal maintain a 4-3 lead. Stanford built a two goal lead in the third but USC fought back and was down 6-5 in the final quarter.

The Cardinal?s tenacious pressing defense kept the Trojan?s at bay until 1:50 remained in the fourth quarter when a desperation half-court shot from Hannah Buckling slid past Stanford?s Kate Baldoni into the lower right hand corner tying the score for the first time. Shortly afterward, Anni Espar scored a double bar in, her first goal of the game, to give the Trojans their first lead of the game.

Stanford battled back in the final 45 seconds of play as Anika Drees drew an ejection off a pass from Neushul. Neushul?s inside shot in the ensuing power play was tipped out by USC goalie Flora Bolonyai and the Trojans began to celebrate. With 12 seconds remaining in the game Ashley Grossman scored to tie the score 7-7. The game then went into two mandatory three minute overtime periods.

UCLA's Kodi Hill advances on goal guarded by 2012 Olympian Maggie Steffens

UCLA’s Kodi Hill advances on goal guarded by 2012 Olympian Maggie Steffens

USC scored first off a counter attack to go ahead 8-7. With ten seconds left in the first overtime, Stanford equaled the score off a cross pass from Neushul to Steffens in transition 8-8. Stanford?s Kaley Dodson won her sixth consecutive sprint to start the second overtime and the Cardinal?s Melissa Seidemann scored her third goal of the match off a power play 9-8. USC?s Buckling responded with her fourth goal of the game 9-9. Stanford regained possession but Bolonyai saved Neushul?s last second shot and the match went to consecutive three minute sudden death overtimes.

Neither team managed to gain an advantage in the first sudden death period. In the second, Stanford?s Annika Dries turned her defender in front of the cage, controlled the ball, and was awarded an exclusion. Stanford came tantalizingly close to victory as two consecutive Seidemann power play shots hit the bar and the period ended with no score.

In the third and final sudden death overtime Stanford?s Kaley Dodson won her 9th consecutive sprint over USC?s Espar. Stanford?s Dries then missed a shot from center forward. The two teams then exchanged attempts until Espar?s shot from eight meters off an outside foul barred down in the upper right-hand corner of the cage ending the game with a 10-9 victory for the Trojans, their fourth NCAA Women?s Water Polo title.

The game is officially the longest match in the history of NCAA Women?s Water Polo Championship competition. The level of play through nine periods was unparalleled in collegiate women?s water polo as together the teams fielded five players from the 2012 London Olympics including three from Team USA (Dries, Seidemann, and Steffens) which won the first Gold Medal in the history of United States Water Polo.

Hill Breaks UCLA Record

Earlier in the afternoon, UCLA?s Sami Hill (SBAC/DPHS) and Kodi Hill (SBAC/DPHS) helped lead UCLA to a 13-8 victory over Hawaii in the third place game. Sami Hill was stellar in cage with 13 blocks. Hill ended up crushing the UCLA saves record with 314 this season, which was 50 more than Caitlin Dement recorded during the 2010 campaign (264).

Sami Hill in goal while Kodi Hill defends 2012 Olympian Melissa Seidemann at center

Sami Hill in goal while Kodi Hill defends 2012 Olympian Melissa Seidemann at center

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