Stanford Set for Rematch with USC in NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship Final

2023 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championships

  • May 12-14, 2023
  • Douglass M. Eberhardt Aquatics Center
    • Stockton, Calif.
  • Championship final: No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 2 USC, 7 p.m.

Top-ranked Stanford rallied past UCLA while USC dominated underdog Princeton in Saturday’s semifinals to set up a rematch in the NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship final on Sunday night.

The two powerhouse programs have combined for the past 12 NCAA titles. The defending champion Cardinal is seeking its first back-to-back titles since 2014-15. Stanford and USC have met in the NCAA final seven times previously, with the Trojans holding a 4-3 edge.

Stanford 14, UCLA 9

Aria FischerJewel Roemer and Sophie Wallace each tallied hat tricks for No. 1 Stanford, which overcame an early deficit to beat No. 3 UCLA, 14-9. Fischer added three assists while Ryann Neushul chipped in three assists along with two goals for the Cardinal.

The Bruins took an early 3-1 lead after junior Malia Allen scored on a power play in the first period, but Neushul found the back of the net to make it 3-2 heading into the second period. Wallace tied the game early in the second period and then set up Fischer on the following possession to give Stanford a 4-3 lead.

UCLA battled back to even the score at 6-6 late in the second period, but the Cardinal responded with a go-ahead goal by Jenna Flynn to give Stanford a lead that it never relinquished in the second half.

Maya Avital stopped seven shots in goal for Stanford while Georgia Phillips totaled nine saves, two steals, and one assist for UCLA.

Stanford Goals: Aria Fischer 3, Jewel Roemer 3, Sophie Wallace 3, Jenna Flynn 2, Ryann Neushul 2, Skyler Jones 1.

UCLA Goals: Emma Lineback 2, Malia Allen 2, Brooke Doten 1, Val Ayala 1, Sienna Green 1, Katrina Drake 1, Anna Pearson 1

USC 18, Princeton 8

The Trojans have their sights set on their eighth national championship after cruising past Princeton, 18-8, in the semifinals.

USC set the tone with three goals in the first three minutes and led 10-4 by halftime. Redshirt junior Tilly Kearns equaled her career high with five goals, and Bayley Weber scored three times to send the Trojans to their fifth NCAA final in a row.

Weber’s hat trick gave her 213 career goals (sixth all-time in USC program history) and 70 this season, making her one of only nine Trojans to reach that mark.

Despite the disappointing end to the Tigers’ Cinderella playoff run, Princeton still had a historic season. The squad finished 30-4 overall, reached the national semifinals for the first time ever, and became the first non-West Coast program to make the Final Four since 2016.

Princeton’s Lindsey Lucas saved 10 shots while Carolyne Stern (five saves in three periods) and Jada Ward (two saves in the fourth period) split time in net for USC.

USC — Tilly Kearns 5, Bayley Weber 3, Honnie Vandeweghe-O’Shea 2, Paige Hauschild 2, Grace Tehaney 2, Mireia GuiralHannah MeyerClaire HaasMorgan Netherton.
Princeton — Kayla Yelensky 3, Kayla Carroll 2, Jovana Sekulic, Meera Burghardt, Ava Houlahan.

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About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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