Steffens, Stanford Down UCLA 8-7 in NCAA WPP Final

Fischer, Steffens and Neushul Celebrate Stanford's 8-7 NCAA Win. Photo Courtesy: Justin Casterline

Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. In a match that encapsulated all the tension and frustration, all the joy and delight of perhaps one of the greatest season of NCAA varsity women’s water polo ever, the 2017 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship final was reduced to a single, fantastic moment.

After top-seeded UCLA had inexplicably turned the ball over with 15 seconds left in a deadlocked contest, Stanford’s Madison Berggren delivered a perfect pass to Maggie Steffens, the Cardinal’s all-world player. The Stanford captain didn’t hesitate—there was barely a moment for the UCLA defense to react—as she fired an absolute rocket past goalie Carlee Kapana to give the Cardinal an 8-7 win over the stunned Bruins.

The win caps an amazing college career for Steffens and five other Sanford seniors who competed in four straight title games, winning three of them. The Cardinal’s only loss in this run was last year when Steffens helped lead Team USA to Olympic gold at the 2016 Rio Games.

For UCLA, the loss was a bitter pill to swallow in what had until the waning moments appeared to be a championship season. Prior to today’s loss, the Bruins has sustained but a single loss—to arch-rival USC—and had swept both previous meetings with the Cardinal. Despite being down 2-0 with barely four minutes elapsed in the first period, the Bruins had fought back to a 7-all tie with 51 second left on Maddie Musselman’s third goal of the match.

A shot at finally vanquishing the Cardinal—UCLA lost both the 2014 and 2015 title matches to the Stanford—appeared possible. Until Steffens wrecked the Bruins, as she has done many times before.

More to come on Swimming World’s coverage of the 2017 NCAA WWP Tournament.

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Steven Flores
7 years ago


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