STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford will begin the 2017 season as the nation’s No. 1 team. The Cardinal collected 98 points to top the 2017 Preseason Women’s Varsity National Top 25, which was released by the Collegiate Water Polo Association on Friday.
USC is second with 97 points, UCLA third with 93 points, Cal fourth with 86 points and Arizona State fifth with 81 points. Hawaii (79 points), Michigan (78 points), UC Irvine (76 points), UC Santa Barbara (65 points) and UC San Diego (63 points) round out the top 10.
Stanford finished 23-6 overall a season ago, its 12th straight campaign with more than 20 wins, and advanced to its seventh consecutive NCAA title game.
The Cardinal was ultimately was unable to collect its third straight national championship, but will have an experienced roster with a wealth of firepower as it looks to reclaim the crown in 2017. Stanford returns seven of its nine 20-goal scorers from a year ago, including All-Americans Jamie Neushul, Jordan Raney, Kat Klass and Dani Jackovich, along with All-American goalkeeper Julia Hermann.
Added to that group are a pair of Olympians in Maggie Steffens and Makenzie Fischer. Steffens, who was the 2015 ACWPC Player of the Year in her most recent collegiate season, returns to The Farm after collecting MVP honors in Rio and captaining the United States to its second straight Olympic gold. Joining her is the freshman Fischer, who deferred her enrollment at Stanford one year and logged seven goals for Team USA at the Olympics.
Goalkeeper Gabby Stone, a two-time All-American, is also back for her senior season with the Cardinal after taking off the 2016 campaign to train with the United States Women’s Senior National Team.
The Cardinal opens its season at the Lou Strong Invitational hosted by San Jose State at West Valley College Jan. 14-15. Stanford plays the Spartans (9:30 a.m.) and UC Davis (2 p.m.) on Saturday, Jan. 14 and has an exhibition with UCLA on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 8 a.m.
2017 Preseason Women’s Varsity National Top 25
|9||UC Santa Barbara||65|
|10||UC San Diego||63|
|11||Long Beach State||52|
|14||San Jose State||50|
|15||San Diego State||47|