Stanford Senior Maggie Steffens shrugged off one of UCLA’s best defenders to unleash the winning shot in Sunday’s NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship final. Her tally with nine seconds remaining in the game gave the Cardinal an 8-7 lead. Stanford then turned away a final attempt by UCLA’s freshman star-in-the-making, Maddie Musselman, to preserve the final score. The national title is Stanford’s sixth.
The game-ending clash matched two Rio gold-medalist teammates. Rachel Fattal marked Steffens who swam to a spot five meters from the Bruin goal. Madison Berggren fed the ball to Steffens who attempted to draw a foul from Fattal, but the UCLA defender deftly avoided the whistle. It made no difference; Steffens was coiled to fire no matter the official’s input. Her twisting, explosive shot bypassed UCLA goalie Carlee Kapana and the Cardinal celebration began nine anxious seconds later.
— Stanford Water Polo (@Stanfordh2opolo) May 14, 2017
The tense and evenly-matched game boasted four US Olympians and several USA National Team members. Steffens and Musselman each scored three times. Makenzie Fisher and Fattal each had an assist and a steal. National teamer Alys Williams scored three for the Bruins and Kapana turned away nine shots in the cage. Steffens added NCAA Championship MVP honors to her two FINA Player of the Year awards and Olympic Games gold medals.
Stanford never trailed in the match but UCLA erased a two-goal deficit in the final period to level the score at seven with 51 seconds remaining on a Musselman shot from the post. She and preceded Musselman’s final score with two others to bring the Bruins within striking distance.
— UCLA Water Polo (@UCLAWaterPolo) May 14, 2017
The national title was Stanford University’s 113th across all NCAA sports. More coverage of the event below.