Spartans Stopped By Stanford, 16-9, In MPSF Opener

Victoria Smith scoerd twice for the Spartans.

March 1, 2014

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San Jose, Calif.----- The San Jose State University women's water polo team scored its most goals in a match against Stanford in the 17-year history of the series, but the Cardinal exploded for three goals in 73 seconds of the third period for a 16-9 win in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener for both teams.

The #10-ranked Spartans (13-8, 0-1 MPSF) trailed 8-6 after sophomore Rae Leknessscored her third of a team-high four goals with 6:20 left in the third quarter. Less than two minutes later goals by Stanford's Kiley Neushul, Jamie Neushul and Maggie Steffens gave the Cardinal their first five-goal lead of the march, 11-6.

Steffen led all players in scoring with five including three in the decisive third quarter. Annika Dries with three; Ashley Grossman, Anna Yelizarova and Kiley Neushul with two each also scored multiple times for the Cardinal.

"We were patient. We played our game. Stanford is solid. We came together, especially in the first half. We kept our cool and slowed the game down to what we wanted to do," said San Jose State interim head coach Johnny Bega. "The second half got a little bit out of hands. We were a little tired and a little winded and we gave up the ball a couple of times. You could tell we were tired, because they countered us right away. That's where they have more depth than we do."

"We stabilized on defense. We were having some trouble with some 1-on-1 defense. They were spreading us out and making some great finishing moves in front of the goal and some angle passes that put us under pressure late in the clock that got us in some 2-on-2 situations in front of the goal," said Stanford coach John Tanner.

"I thought we created a lot of really good offensive opportunities throughout the game."

Victoria Smith, with two, and Clara Espar Llaquet, Bianca Seyfert and Timi Molnar, each with one rounded out San Jose State's scoring. Espar Llaquet extended her consecutive game scoring streak to 21 with the Spartans' final score of the match.

San Jose State goalkeeper Maddie Reardonhad a busy day defending the cage. She was credited with nine saves. Stanford starting goalkeeper Gabby Stone stopped four Spartan shots and back-up Emily Dorst made five saves.

"Stanford is a counter-attack machine and we stopped them many times in the first half," Bega added. The two teams entered the MPSF opener each averaging just over 12 goals a match. The Cardinal led 7-5 at halftime.

"If you look at the score, you might not see it, it was a good game. We kept our composure and played four quarters. We didn't let them feel comfortable about this game," said Spartans co-captain Timi Molnar.

"Today was a very emotional day for me and the San Jose State team and everybody who knew Lou," Tanner said about former Spartans head coach Lou Tully, who died last December at age 70 due to complications from cancer treatment. Tully coached the Spartans from 1997 through 2013. "There were a lot reminders of him today. It was an honor to be here playing in this game. The tribute before the game was great."

The Spartans return to the pool, Saturday, March 8, in a MPSF match at Cal. Start time is 1:00 p.m. at the Spieker Pool.

San Jose State University Women's Water Polo
The Aquatics Center, San Jose, Calif.
March 1, 2014

Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Total
#3-Stanford (11-1, 1-0 MPSF) 2 5 6 3 16
#10-San Jose State (13-8, 0-1 MPSF) 1 4 3 1  9
Goal Scoring
Stanford - Maggie Steffens, 5; Annika Dries, 3; Kiley Neushul, Ashley Grossman, Anna Yelizarova, 2, each; Jamie Neushul, Kelsey Suggs, 1, each.
San Jose State - Rae Lekness, 4; Victoria Smith, 2; Clara Espar Llaquet, Timi Molnar, Bianca Seyfert, 1, each.
 Goalkeeper Saves
Stanford - Gabby Stone, 4; Emily Dorst, 5.
San Jose State - Maddie Reardon, 9.
Stanford - 8.
San Jose State -7.