The No. 4 Stanford men’s water polo team took two lopsided wins this weekend, defeating No. 14 Santa Clara 17-4 on Saturday and No. 12 UC-Davis 12-7 on Sunday. Neither opponent is in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), so Stanford (18-4, 5-2 MPSF) did not get a chance to move up from fourth in the conference standings.
The Cardinal also had its annual alumni game on Saturday, giving the team a chance to play against a mix of elder statesman and current Olympians.
“It’s always fun to have a lot of the old players come back, especially because a lot of those guys have gone on to play higher-level polo,” said redshirt sophomore goalie Scott Platshon.
Freshman utility Alex Bowen started the weekend off quickly, scoring the first two goals of Saturday’s game on his way to a three-goal day. By the end of the first quarter, Stanford held a commanding 6-1 lead over Santa Clara. The only first-quarter goal for the Broncos came from sophomore 2-meter Tucker Carlson, who scored two of the team’s three goals.
The two teams combined for only one goal in the second quarter, going into halftime with a 7-1 score. The Stanford offense exploded again in the second half, though, scoring five goals in both the third and fourth quarters.
All three active goalies played in the game, with redshirt senior Brian Pingree making four saves, while Platshon and redshirt sophomore Hunter Ploch made one save apiece.
Bowen broke the ice once again on Sunday, scoring just 19 seconds into the game. He ended the game with four goals, adding yet another hat trick to his impressive freshman resume that includes being the third-leading scorer in the MPSF. He is averaging 2.42 goals per game for the season.
For the second straight day, Stanford jumped out to a 6-1 lead before halftime. But UC-Davis made a push in the fourth quarter, scoring four goals in the frame to make the final score closer than it had been for the majority of the game. Senior Aaron Salit had four goals for the Aggies, including two in that fourth quarter.
Pingree ended the day with nine saves, taking his total to 13 for the weekend. Senior driver Jacob Smith had five goals on the weekend, junior driver Paul Rudolph had four, redshirt junior driver Alex Avery had three, senior utility Peter Sefton had two and redshirt sophomore 2-meter Forrest Watkins had three. Redshirt junior driver Andrew LaForge, redshirt junior 2-meter Ryan Brown, redshirt senior driver Sam Finlayson, redshirt senior driver Ryan Kent and redshirt freshman driver Eric Wright each finished the weekend with one goal.
A highlight within that medley of goals was Rudolph, who has come on strong offensively in the last two weeks. He has scored two goals in each of the past four games. The Cardinal hopes that trend will continue as it prepares for the postseason, where goals will be at a premium against top conference opponents.
Platshon talked about how these non-conference games have helped the team come together just weeks before its crucial playoff push.
“These games are important to get everyone on the same page as the season comes to an end,” he said.
Stanford hosts No. 3 California next weekend in the season finale. The yearly Big Splash will be crucial for seeding going into the MPSF Tournament. The game is set for 5:15 p.m. on Saturday at Avery Aquatic Center. Tickets are now on sale for what is the only Stanford men’s water polo home game that is not free for fans. Stanford students still get in free with their SUID.