Five Stanford players named to the U.S. Olympic team | May 18, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 18, 2012

Five Stanford players named to the U.S. Olympic team

Five current and former Stanford players were among the 13 athletes named to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women's Water Polo Team, USA Water Polo announced Thursday.

U.S. captain Brenda Villa (2003) will compete in her fourth Olympic Games this summer in London, Jessica Steffens ('10) will compete in her second, while the trio of Melissa Seidemann ('13), Annika Dries ('14) and Maggie Steffens ('16) will make their Olympic debuts.

Seidemann, Dries and Maggie Steffens did not attend Stanford during the 2011-12 academic year in order to train with the U.S. team, missing the 2012 collegiate season in the process. All three will be part of the Cardinal team for the 2013 season.

The trio makes up the only current collegiate players on the U.S. team.

The addition of the quintet to the squad gives Stanford Women's Water Polo a total of 14 nods by nine players to the U.S. Olympic Team since the Olympic debut of women's water polo at the Sydney Games in 2000.

The U.S. seeks its first gold medal at this summer's London Games, and the trek begins July 30 against Hungary. The Americans will close Group A play with games against Spain (August 1) and China (August 3).

The U.S. is the only nation to medal at each of the three previous Olympic women's water polo events, capturing silver medals in 2000 and 2008, and bronze in 2004.

Villa will be one of two four-time women's water polo Olympians for the U.S., alongside teammate Heather Petri. A three-time All-American, 2001 National Player of the Year and 2002 Peter J. Cutino Award winner, Villa helped lead the Cardinal to its first NCAA title in 2002.

Jessica Steffens, a two-time ACWPC All-American (2009-10), makes her second Olympic appearance this summer. Four years ago, the Danville native netted five goals and was named to the Olympic All-Star Team for her superb performance at the Beijing Games.

Younger sister Maggie Steffens signed a National Letter-of-Intent to join the Cardinal in 2012, but did not attend Stanford this year in order to train with the U.S. team, just as older sister Jessica did ahead of the 2008 Games. The youngest member of the 2012 Olympic squad, Steffens spent much of her prep career as a member of the various U.S. junior teams.

The duo of Dries and Seidemann also make their Olympic debuts in London. Dries, the 2011 Peter J. Cutino Award winner, led the Cardinal with 65 goals that year, including five in the National Collegiate Championship final against California that clinched Stanford's 2011 NCAA title.

Seidemann has been one of the most dominant two-meter players in the nation during her Stanford career. The Walnut Creek native has scored 164 goals over the first three years of her collegiate career (2009-11), including 51 last year as the Cardinal won the NCAA title. Seidemann was named to the ACWPC All-America First Team and was a Peter J. Cutino Award finalist in 2011.

The quintet helped the United States qualify for the 2012 Olympics by winning the gold medal at the 2011 Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.


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