STANFORD, California, January 21. NUMBER One Stanford (9-0, 5-0 Pac-10) knocked off No. 11 USC (5-3, 3-3 Pac-10) by a score of 174-111 in its final home dual meet of the 2006-07 campaign at the Avery Aquatic Center on Saturday to move within one victory of its first unbeaten dual meet regular season since 2001-02. Stanford will wrap up its regular season by traveling to No. 4 California (10-0, 5-0 Pac-10) in a highly anticipated showdown of the conference's only two unbeaten teams on Saturday, February 3 (12 pm, PT).
"The wins this weekend were really important in terms of showing mental toughness and keeping momentum," said Stanford head coach Lea Maurer. "The thing I was most proud about this weekend was that toughness and having fun. As the championship season peaks in, tensions creep in a little more. But, we fought that and stayed with what has worked this year, which is a team focus, team energy and reminding ourselves that this is fun. The more we stay engaged in a team effort, the better we are going to be and the more fun we are going to have."
Caroline Bruce recorded NCAA `A' times to win both the 100 (1:01.41) and 200 (2:11.31) breast against highly-regarded Rebecca Soni of USC with a margin of just one-tenth of a second separating the swimmers in an exciting 200 race.
Julia Smit won two more individual events for the Cardinal with her victories in the 200 back (1:57.26, NCAA `A') and 200 free (1:48.62, NCAA `B'), while recording the top time as an exhibition swimmer in the 400 IM (4:11.14, NCAA `A'). Smit actually shared her 200 free win with teammate Whitney Spence as the two finished in a tie.
Elaine Breeden posted Stanford's other NCAA `A' time in a 200 fly (1:56.52) victory before making it a sweep of the fly events with a win in the 100 (54.06, NCAA `B').
Brooke Bishop captured both the 100 back (55.47) and 100 free (50.82) in NCAA `B' times.
Morgan Hentzen (1650 free, 16:23.85, NCAA `B'), Nilasha Ghosh (50 free, 23.88) and Cassidy Krug (1-meter diving, 311.18) each added one individual victory with Krug also getting the highest point total (325.73) in the 3-meter event as an exhibition diver.
Hentzen's victory came in a 1-2-3 sweep of the 1650 free by the Cardinal as fellow seniors Lauren Costella (16:28.19) and Desireé Stahley (16:33.37) came in second and third also in NCAA `B' times. The senior distance swimmers were honored along with Krug in a ceremony prior to the final regular season home meet of their collegiate careers.
"The seniors have been unbelievably supportive of me and the program," explained Maurer. "You pencil them in, and you know exactly what you're going to get. They've just been go-to people and leaders during their four years at Stanford. Everybody wanted their last meet to be one that they looked upon fondly. We wanted it to be a tribute to them."
The Cardinal actually took the first three places in six events (1650 free, 200 breast, 100 free, 200 back, 500 free, 100 fly) after the meet started auspiciously when Stanford's 400 medley `A' relay team disqualified, allowing USC to jump out to a 13-4 lead after the first event of the day. Kristen Lahey, Soni, Emily Goetsch and Rachael Waller were declared the winners in a time of 3:45.10.
But Stanford would take the next 10 events before USC's Kalyn Keller (4:47.68) edged Elizabeth Durot (4:47.83) in the 500 free with Hentzen (4:53.38) and Spence (4:53.59) checking in third and fourth. All four reached the NCAA `B' standard in the race.
Kim Popp (3-meter diving, 264.98) and Soni (400 IM, 4:22.55, NCAA `B') were also both officially winners, as was a 400 free relay team of Keller, Kristina Rigterink, Kate Polich and Krissy Forelli (3:38.60) with Stanford going exhibition in all three events. The Cardinal did record an NCAA `B' mark of 3:24.66 in the 400 free relay with a team of Breeden, Madeline Rovira, Bishop and Stahley. Breeden's 50.82 leadoff 100 free was also an NCAA `B' standard.