Stanford Women’s Water Polo Wins NCAA Title

ANN ARBOR, Michigan, May 16. AMBER Oland and the Cardinal defense finished a dominant weekend performance and two-meter Annika Dries proved to be too strong for cross-Bay rival No. 2 California to handle as No. 1 Stanford captured the program's second national title with a 9-5 victory.

Stanford (28-1) adds the 2011 title to its 2002 crown, and claimed its 31st consecutive victory over California, to which the Cardinal has not lost since March 26, 2000.

Oland, playing in the final game of her collegiate career Sunday, underscored an indomitable defensive effort for the Cardinal at the weekend tournament, making 11 saves. The Stanford defense aggressively attacked California at center tank for much of the game, taking away any inside presence and forcing the Golden Bears to rely on shots from distance.

Dries scored five goals in the contest, as California had no answer for the sophomore two-meter. The Laguna Beach native pounded and bullied her way into scoring position and netted a hat trick by halftime. Her performance culminated in being named the Tournament MVP.

Kim Krueger, Alyssa Lo, Pallavi Menon and Melissa Seidemann each added goals for the Cardinal in the win.

Although Stanford controlled the action throughout most of the contest, it was the final minute of the first half in which it became evident that things had completely turned in the Cardinal's favor.

The turning point started with 55 seconds left in the half. Trailing 3-1, California drew a five-meter penalty shot, which Oland turned away with a phenomenal save, then managed to clear the ball off the line with just inches to spare. Coming right back down the tank on the attack following the save, Dries netted her third goal by out-working two California defenders inside to put Stanford up 4-1 with 38 seconds before halftime.

Dries opened up the second-half scoring after just 24 seconds, followed by Seidemann converting a five-meter penalty with 5:58 to go in the third period to put Stanford comfortably up 6-1.

California would score three of the next four goals to cut the Stanford lead to three at 7-4, but the Golden Bears could not get within any less than three goals the rest of the way. Lo gave the Cardinal more breathing room with yet another of Stanford's final-minute strikes, finding the net four seconds before the horn to make it 8-4.

The teams traded goals in the final period, but by that time the Cardinal defense was putting the finishing touches on a memorable effort. The unit held the Golden Bears scoreless over the final 4:16 while Oland made one final save with seconds remaining and ran out the clock to initiate the celebratory group leap into the pool.

Stanford had opened the contest with what was its theme for the tournament, as Dries powered her way inside and easily scored from close range after just 20 seconds. The MPSF Player of the Year struck again, this time on the power play with 4:12 remaining in the frame to double the Cardinal up over the Golden Bears.

California got on the board 48 seconds later, when Oland was ejected, leaving Stanford without a goalie for 20 seconds. The Golden Bears took advantage as Ashley Young fired home through the wall.

The Cardinal missed a major opportunity to increase its lead with 1:23 to go. Cassie Churnside drew a five-meter penalty, but Dries' shot hit the right post and stayed out, keeping it a one-goal contest.

Each team would have its chances into the second frame, but there wouldn't be a change on the scoreboard until the Cardinal caught a break just over two minutes before halftime. With the shot clock running out, Krueger fired a low shot from the right wing that skidded under California goalie Stephanie Peckham's hands and into the goal to begin a 4-0 Cardinal run.

Following the game, Dries (MVP), Krueger, Oland and Seidemann were all named to the All-Tournament First Team.

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