The Stanford men’s water polo team, in the midst of a strong stretch that has pushed its ranking all the way up to No. 4, finally comes home for an intense weekend of action featuring games against two tough Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) foes.
On Saturday at noon, in what will be just the second home game the Cardinal (10-5, 3-1 MPSF) has played all year, No. 8 Long Beach State rolls into Avery Aquatic Center, looking to avenge a 9-8 loss to the Cardinal earlier this season in the second round of the SoCal Tournament.
Long Beach State (7-10, 0-4 MPSF) is in danger of missing the annual Thanksgiving-weekend MPSF Tournament for the second year in a row, certainly an aberration for the 49ers’ stellar coach, Gavin Arroyo, who had never missed the playoffs before last season. Long Beach State needs to win at least two out of its final four conference games to have a chance of making the field for the very competitive tournament.
The 49ers are led on offense by freshman Nick Rascon, who has scored 30 goals and has netted at least one shot in 14 straight games. In goal, they are anchored by sophomore Matthew Kubeck, who averages 7.06 saves per contest.
There will be no break for the Cardinal, however, as it must come back quickly to take on No. 5 UC-Irvine at home on Sunday at noon.
The Anteaters (14-5, 3-2 MPSF) are coming off a big win on Halloween versus then-No. 7 Pacific. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.
The Anteaters’ win on Sunday was archetypal of their season to date–the five-goal effort of scoring leader Griffin Lerman led the team. Steady play by the defense as a whole, which is anchored by senior goalie Matt Johnson, helped as well.
Stanford is coming off three very one-sided wins. Over its last three games, the Cardinal has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 50-18.
The Stanford offense has been extremely impressive in these contests, especially senior utility Jeffrey Schwimer and junior driver Jacob Smith. Schwimer scored four times in the Cardinal’s Friday night victory over Santa Clara, a season-high for him. Smith, the Cardinal’s leading scorer this season with 35 goals, added four goals of his own to match Schwimer for the team high in the game and boost his overall goals-per-game average to 2.33, good for fourth in the conference.
Stanford will take on Long Beach State on Saturday and UC-Irvine on Sunday. Both matches are scheduled to start at 12 p.m. at Avery Aquatics Center.