Princeton Pulls Huge Upset, Stanford Wins 23-0 to Advance to NCAA Water Polo Semis

2023 NCAA Women’s Water Polo National Championship Tournament

There was one gigantic blowout and one gigantic upset in the quarterfinal rounds of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship Tournament on Friday.

The top-ranked Stanford Cardinal took down Biola 23-0, for their first shutout in seven years, while the unseeded Princeton Tigers upset the 3rd seeded Cal Golden Bears at the other end of the bracket 11-9.

Three of the four seeded teams moved on: #4 UCLA beat UC Irvine 14-12 to get a crack at Stanford, while #2 USC beat Fresno State 12-8 to take on the cinderella Princeton Tigers. This is the 19th-straight season for USC to advance to at least the semifinals.

#1 Stanford def. Biola 23-0

The Stanford Cardinal (22-1, 5-1 MPSF) received goals from 12 different players and cruised to its first shutout in seven years, blanking Biola 23-0 on Friday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Championship.

Aria Fischer scored four goals while Ryann Neushul and Maggie Hawkins added three apiece, as Stanford (22-1, 5-1 MPSF) opened defense of its NCAA title. The Cardinal is bidding to repeat as NCAA champions for the first time since 2014-15.

The nation’s only program to have participated at every NCAA Championship since the event’s inception in 2001, Stanford is chasing its ninth NCAA title in school history after defeating USC 10-7 to capture the 2022 crown. The Cardinal, which has advanced to 11 of the last 12 NCAA finals, also captured NCAA championships in 2019, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011 and 2002.

Stanford quickly overwhelmed Biola, making its NCAA debut in only its second season, and produced its first shutout since Feb. 21, 2016, when the Cardinal defeated Brown 17-0 in a neutral-site match in Davis, Calif.

Hannah Constandse contributed four assists to go along with two goals for the Cardinal, which led 7-0 after the first period and 13-0 at halftime. Floranne Carroll also made an impact, dishing out three assists to match one goal.

Of Stanford’s 12 goal scorers, seven players registered multi-goal games.

Hawkins and her fellow rookies looked impressive in their NCAA debuts. Jenna Flynn added two goals on four shots, Ella Woodhead chipped in with two attempts and Jackie King made six saves over the final three quarters in goal.

Biola, in just its second year in existence as a program, wrapped a magical season that included a WWPA Championship and an opening round win, even with a roster made up almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores. They finished the season 18-15 overall.

Stanford will next face UCLA in Saturday’s semifinals at 5 p.m Pacific Time.

Stanford Goals: Aria Fischer 4, Maggie Hawkins 3, Ryann Neushul 3, Hannah Constandse 2, Jenna Flynn 2, Katie Lyons 2, Jewel Roemer 2, Floranne Carroll 1, Christina Hicks 1, Skyler Jones 1, Lexi Rowell 1, Celeste Wijnbelt 1.

#4 UCLA def. UC Irvine 14-12

In what was, on paper, to be the best match of the day, No. 4 seed UCLA (21-7) advanced to the Semifinals of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship with a 14-12 win over UC Irvine (20-7) on Friday afternoon at Chris Kjeldsen Pool at the Douglass M. Eberhardt Aquatics Center on the campus of Pacific.

A total of nine different Bruins got into the scoring column, paced by the sixth hat trick of the year (second-consecutive) by graduate student Ava Johnson. The Bruins had three other players record multiple goals in the win, including two goals from sophomore Molly Renner and graduate student Val AyalaBrooke Doten also scored twice against the Anteaters. It marked the first time that the Bruin senior scored multiple goals in a game in her career.

Redshirt senior Georgia Phillips got the start in the cage and went the distance, registering five saves and one steal, while giving up 12 goals to the Anteaters.

The game had seven ties and two lead changes before the Bruins took command of the game in the second half of the fourth quarter. The Bruins tied the game at 2-2, but UCI scored two goals at the end of the first to lead 4-2 at the end of one. The Anteaters enjoyed a 7-4 lead until Johnson scored a power play goal in the final minute of the second period to cut the deficit to 7-5 at the break. Irvine led 8-6 with 6:10 remaining in the third when the Bruins mounted their comeback. UCLA would score three straight goals (Johnson, Katrina Drake, and Renner) with Renner’s penalty conversion giving the Bruins their first lead of the game with 0:39 left in the third.

UCLA would continue to score first with Irvine tying it up for most of the fourth quarter until the two teams were tied at 12-12. Sophomore Emma Lineback scored the eventual game-winning goal with both teams at full strength at the 4:12 mark and Ayala tacking on an insurance goal with 1:48 to go.

The Anteaters had five players score, with Elena Flynn scoring half of her team’s total with six goals on the day to lead all players.

While Flynn teed off, the Irvine’s second-leading scorer this season Nioka Thomas managed just one goal on the day.

Erin Tharp also had five saves for UC Irvine while surrendering 14 goals to the Bruins.

The Bruins will now face top-seeded Stanford in the Semifinals of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship Saturday at 5:00 p.m. PT. The game will be streamed live on The Cardinal advanced with a 23-0 win over Biola on Friday.

#2 USC def. Fresno State 12-8

The 2021 champion Trojans, and 2022 runners-up, kicked off their tournament run on Friday with a 12-8 win over Fresno State.

The Trojans never trailed against the Bulldogs, with junior Julia Janov matching her career high with a three-goal day to lead the Trojans’ offensive attack. USC is now through to the NCAA Semifinals for the 19th straight time, carrying a 27-2 overall record.

USC’s attack force was clicking in the first frame as the Trojans peeled out to a 5-1 lead on goals from five different scorers. Paige Hauschild lit the fuse for the Trojan cause, and although the Bulldogs bit back on their next possession, USC fired off four more as Grace Tehaney, Janov, Honnie Vandeweghe-O’Shea and Mireia Guiral rang up a 5-1 advantage. Alejandra Aznar and Hauschild took turns squashing Fresno State 6-on-5 advantages next, but the Bulldogs got their third straight power play to make it 5-2 at the close of the first. Daphne Guevremont scored bost of the first quarter goals for the Bulldogs.

An early Fresno State goal in the second from Hailey Andress had it as a two-goal margin, kicking off what would be hat tricks for both her and Guevremont on the day.

USC’s Hannah Meyer and Janov issued back-to-back blasts for USC, though to extend their lead back to four. The Bulldogs wrapped two bar-in goals around a fine finish from USC’s Bayley Weber at the post, and it was 8-5 for halftime.

USC would create a little more space in the third, Weber found Aznar for a 6-on-5 sizzler to make it 9-5, and then Aznar nabbed a steal and fed Guiral, who struck off on the counter and hammered it home to net a 10-5 advantage for the Trojans. At the close of the third, it was a 10-6 margin, bringing up the final eight minutes of action. Aznar opened that one with an assist to Janov, who buried her third of the day to make it 11-6.

The Bulldogs managed a pair of goals in the final four minutes, but Weber wasn’t done. Taking a feed from Guiral, the senior wheeled in her second goal to tally USC’s 12th goal of the winning day.

Fresno State’s leading scorer Brooke Ochoa, who scored 60 in the regular season, was held scoreless in the match, committing two exclusion fouls and giving up the game’s only penalty.

USC advances to the NCAA Semifinals for the 19th straight season and will face Princeton at 7 p.m. tomorrow (May 13) at Chris Kjeldsen Pool in Stockton, Calif.

Princeton def. #3 Cal 11-9

The match that set the water polo world alight, the Princeton Tigers became the first non-west coast school to qualify for the Final Four since 2016 (Michigan). This is the Tigers’ first time advancing this far in the national tournament.

Rachael Carver scored on the first possession for Princeton to set the tone and later came up with another tally as the clock read 2:17 to go in the first frame. Lindsey Lucas kept the Tigers in front with five stops in the first eight minutes.

Kate Mallery put the Tigers in front, 3-1, to begin the second quarter. Lucas came up with a big stop on a 5M chance before Kaila Carroll extended the lead for Princeton to three, 4-1.

Cal closed the gap to one with two consecutive goals, but Jovana Sekulic scored on a great feed from Carver to make it 5-3 with 2:33 remaining in the first half.

Mallery extended Princeton’s advantage to three, 6-3, with nine seconds to go in the first half.

As the clock wound down in the 3rd, Cal goalie Isabel Williams pressed forward into the attacking end. With a planned final possession, Williams fired from 8 meters out and scored as time expired to end the third quarter to make it an 8-7 contest with eight minutes to go. Arguably the top net-minder in the country, that was Williams’ 2nd goal of the season.

Goalie Goal Video:

Kayla Yelensky scored twice to begin the fourth frame to get Princeton to double-digits with over six minutes to go. The Bears closed the gap to one with 2:30 left thanks to Rozanne Voorvelt, but Mallery finished off a hat trick to complete the scoring.  Lucas came up with two saves and a block after Mallery’s tally amid a flurry of desperation from Cals’s Cecily Turner and successfully kept the Bears off the scoreboard.

Carver led the Tigers with three goals and three assists while Mallery also had three goals. Lucas recorded 15 stops in the win. It’s the program’s first victory ever over Cal in seven contests.

Voorvelt recorded a hat trick for Cal.

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13 days ago

Not really that big of an upset considering Cal also lost to Hawaii and Long Beach this season.

old tiger
14 days ago

Princeton continuing to bust brackets this year

14 days ago

Did Stanford really feel the need to run up the score like that? I hope they played all subs after the first half…

ASU fan
14 days ago

I don’t know if you count them as “west coast” school, but ASU was in the final four in 2021?

IU Swammer
14 days ago

Misread the headline and thought Princeton beat Stanford 23-0.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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