After a pair of disappointing tournament finishes to open its season, the Stanford men’s water polo team opens play in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) on Saturday at home against No. 1 USC. It will be the No. 6 Cardinal’s first home contest of the season.
Stanford (6-4, 0-0 MPSF) opened its season with two victories at the UCI Invitational over Pomona-Pitzer and the Redlands but turned in lackluster performances at its last two tournaments.
At the NorCal Invitational, hosted by California, the Card advanced to the semifinals but fell to fourth place after consecutive losses to UCLA and Cal. While Stanford hung tough in both matches, it lost both by a combined four goals.
A similar fate befell Stanford at last weekend’s SoCal Invitational, hosted by UCLA. The Card won its first match over UC-San Diego, but fell to UC-Santa Barbara by two goals to end up in the consolation bracket. While Stanford did manage to advance to the fifth-place game, it fell again to the Golden Bears, 13-9, for a finish of sixth in the tournament. The losses saw Stanford drop two spots in the national rankings to its current spot of No. 6.
With the Trojans coming to town, Stanford has had little time to recover after its tournament in SoCal. USC is the defending NCAA champion and the top team in the nation, boasting a 15-0 overall record (including a 1-0 record in MPSF play). Last season, the Trojans edged the Cardinal both times the two teams met, once in the regular season and once in the MPSF Tournament.
Stanford will rely on a trio of high-powered scorers–juniors Jacob Smith and Peter Sefton along with senior Jeffrey Schwimer–to provide the bulk of the offense against USC. It will also need strong play from junior goalie Brian Pingree to help contain a powerful USC attack.
Saturday’s match is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. at Avery Aquatic Center.