Honor Roll No. 9: Annika Dries

During the summer months, we are releasing the 10 winners of the Bootleg Honor roll. Our previously announced members are runner Chris Derrick, gymnast Alex Buscaglia, softball's Ashley Hansen, runner Elliot Heath, swimmer Austin Staab, volleyball's Alix Klineman, soccer's Christen Press and football's Andrew Luck. Our ninth member of The Bootleg's 2011 Honor Roll is water polo's Annika Dries

In a June 3rd article we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2010/2011 school-year.

The criteria are as follows:

Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student- athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed "Spirit of Stanford."

A national champion. The NCAA Championship's Most Outstanding Player, with five goals against in the Finals, all the sweeter that they came against California. The conference's Player of the Year, a sophomore two-meter whose 65 goals led a team that finished 28-1.

More impressively, Annika Dries took home the Peter J. Cutino award, women water polo's Heisman. She becomes the third Stanford player to earn the honor, following in the wake [har har har] of Brenda Villa (2002) and Jackie Frank (2003).

Most impressively, Dries trained with the U.S. Olympic team -- after finishing her junior year of high school. She has played with the U.S. Senior National team, the Olympic team in non-Olympic years, in both of her post-collegiate summers. All of this before she he's had the chance to drink in a bar, vote for President or, by the way, turn 20. At a school of overachievers, Dries may just be the poster-child.

Here are one, two and three of Dries' goals this season. As the two-meter, she's the team's trashwoman, whose task it is to grab up anything within a few meters of the goal before a defender or the goalie can, and then whip it on in before she gets bludgeoned and dragged underwater. As you can see, she's darn good at it.

Stanford needed four collective overtimes to get past USC twice, and its sole loss of the season came at an inopportune time -- to UCLA in the MPSF tournament. Still, the Cardinal left no doubt in the NCAA Finals, winning all three games easily, over Iona 22-7, USC 8-4 and Cal 9-5. At 28-1 and with a national title run like that, Stanford is surely the favorite for next year's title.

Plus, just look at the roster. Dries returns, as do all but three of her 18 teammates. The losses are No. 4 scorer Kim Krueger, top goalie Amber Oland and backup goalie Kim Hall. There are more than enough stars to make up for Krueger's scoring load and then some, including Cutino finalist Melissa Seidermann, who scored 51 on the season, and a whole incoming freshman class. Freshman Kate Baldoni was goalie 1a this season, playing in 17 games to Oland's 20 – and posting a goals against average nearly a full point better.

Basically, the 2012 and 2013 seasons were supposed to be Stanford water polo's years, and maybe they still will be. However, when no team had an answer for her, Dries bent that learning curve forward a year.

It bears repeating: Dries is only a sophomore. I suspect she, Andrew Luck, Ashley Hansen and Chris Derrick, the non-seniors on our Honor Roll, will be holding down four of our spots next year.

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