May 15, 2011
ANN ARBOR, MICH. - The No. 2-ranked Cal women's water polo team fell behind 4-1 at halftime and could not recover, losing to No. 1-ranked Stanford, 9-5, in the national championship match Sunday (May 15) at the Canham Natatorium in Ann Arbor, Mich. Despite falling to their Bay Area rival, the Golden Bears finished the 2011 campaign 26-5 and earned the opportunity to play for the national title for the first time in school history. Cal had five different players score in the title match - juniors Elizabeth McLaren and Katie Monton, sophomore Breda Vosters, and freshmen Ashley Young and Kelly Mendoza.
Richard Corso's squad, who earlier had captured the Mountain Pacific Sport Federation Tournament to garner the automatic bid to the national championship, earned the NCAA runner-up trophy for the first time ever after finishing third in 2010. The Bears advanced to the NCAA title match with a 13-5 win over UC San Diego Friday and a 7-4 victory over UCLA on Saturday.
Stanford's Annika Dries scored the matches' first two goals before Cal freshman Young got the Bears on board with an inside score at 3:24 left in the opening period. Unfortunately for Cal, the Cardinal shut out the Bears in the second period to take a 4-1 lead at the half, and then scored the first two goals of the third period before freshman Mendoza stem the tide with a backhand score off an Emily Csikos' assist to make the score, 6-2.
Stanford's Pallavi Menon gave her squad a 7-2 advantage with 3:15 left in the third period before Cal mustered a mini rally on a long shot from top by McLaren, and another long shot by the left-handed Vosters to get the Bears within 7-4. But, the Cardinal broke Cal's momentum with Alyssa Lo's goal with six seconds left in the third quarter.
Monton gave the Bears their fifth goal with an inside score with 4:16 left in the match, before Stanford's Dries finished the day's scoring with a goal at 2:14 in the fourth for the final 9-5 margin. It was the Cardinal's first NCAA title in women's water polo since 2002.
"It was a rough game for us today, but I am not going to let our last four quarters dampen what was otherwise an outstanding season," said Corso. "This is the best finish this program has even had and I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish. I am extremely excited the direction this program is heading. This season was a lot of fun."
At the conclusion of the national championship match, junior captain Csikos and sophomore center Dana Ochsner were named to the NCAA Tournament first team, while junior goalie and team captain Stephanie Peckham was named to the NCAA Tournament second team. The Bears do not graduate anyone off their 2011 national runner-up squad.
Cal 1 0 3 1 - 5
Stan 2 2 4 1 - 9
Stanford goals: Annika Dries 5, Melissa Seidemann, Pallavi Menon, Alyssa Lo, Kim Krueger
Saves: Stephanie Peckham (Cal) 8; Amber Oland (Stan) 11