On March 5, the 13th-ranked UC Irvine Women’s Water Polo team fell to third-ranked Stanford 11-2 in their third Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match of the season.
The loss gives the Anteaters a 1-2 record in the MPSF with a 6-6 record overall. The Cardinals improved their record to 3-0 in the MPSF and 10-2 overall with the victory. The game began rather slowly with the teams going back and forth for the first few minutes.
The Anteaters had trouble getting opportunities in the opening quarter, going as many as six possessions without a shot on goal. With around four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first quarter, Stanford drew an exclusion against freshman Anteater driver Nicole Frish on the perimeter. Stanford sophomore two-meter player Christina Hewko converted the power play into the game’s first goal with 4:27 remaining in the quarter, giving Stanford the lead. Just over two minutes later UCI earned an exclusion against Stanford senior two-meter defender Hannah Luber upon which UCI Head Coach Dan Klatt called a time-out.
The Anteaters, however, failed to convert the opportunity into a goal, with Frish putting the ball just over the cage. With 1:45 remaining in the quarter Stanford earned themselves another power play on a counterattack, resulting in a goal by sophomore two-meter defender Alison Gregorka, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 advantage. The counterattack and power play continued to haunt the Anteaters as Stanford added two more goals, one in each fashion, to put themselves ahead four goals to none at the end of the first quarter. A minute and a half into the second quarter the Anteaters drew an exclusion against Stanford sophomore driver Katie Hansen.
UCI sophomore driver Robyn Kaake converted the advantage into UCI’s first goal of the game. Stanford went on to score four unanswered goals, three of which came from counter attacks and the other being a result of their fourth power play opportunity. At halftime, Stanford led the Anteaters 8-1 with its goals comprised in large part of power play and counterattack opportunities. Stanford opened the second half by winning the sprint and getting the ball to Hewko for a goal on the same possession, increasing the Cardinals’ lead to eight. Despite earning themselves a power play opportunity early in the quarter, the Anteaters remained scoreless throughout the entire seven minutes, with the only other goals coming from the Stanford side.
Stanford junior Nancy El-Sakkary scored the Cardinals’ final goal of the game with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter, bringing the score to 11-1 in favor of Stanford. Again the shot clock ran out on UCI on multiple occasions, forcing them to turn the ball over to the opposition. While both teams appeared to be playing slower than in the previous half, Stanford continued their counterattack while UCI continued to struggle offensively. The fourth quarter opened regularly with UCI winning the sprint. The Anteaters seemed to come out with refreshed spirits, utilizing the help of their bench for extra energy.
They managed to smother a Stanford power play opportunity, blocking a number of shots before securing the rebound. On an exclusion against a Stanford player with just under four minutes remaining senior Anteater driver Alicia Weider scored UCI’s other goal of the game, making the score 2-11 in Stanford’s favor. Despite not adding anymore goals, the Anteaters had considerably more opportunities on the offensive end and appeared to be playing harder than in the middle portion of the game. The Anteaters went on to hold Stanford scoreless and won the quarter despite losing the game 11-2. Though UCI lost the game, Klatt seems optimistic about the lessons gained in the aftermath of the defeat.
‘We’ve seen what we need to aspire to and the level of play we need to reach,’ Klatt said after the game.
When asked about the main cause of the day’s loss Klatt responded, ‘experience was the main factor. Stanford has many high-profile, international-level players who have seen more games.’
No members of UCI’s team could be reached for comment.