The fifth-ranked men’s water polo team made a strong statement this weekend by dominating two conference opponents at their home pools. Stanford avenged its early-season loss to No. 2 UC-Santa Barbara in the process and put itself in a position to jump the Gauchos in the rankings.
Sparked by six goals and two hat tricks from freshman driver Brett Bonanni, Stanford (7-3, 1-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) broke open big leads against both UC-Santa Barbara and No. 8 Pepperdine to pull away for the sweep.
The Cardinal scored the first five goals of the game against UC-Santa Barbara, essentially putting the game away before halftime en route to a 9-7 victory. It took longer to build a lead against Pepperdine, but strong second and third quarters by Stanford eventually blew open a 9-4 lead. The Cardinal won by the same margin, with a final score of 11-6.
The wins halted Stanford’s losing streak at one and gave the Card its first conference wins of the season. Coming off of a fifth-place finish at the SoCal Tournament two weeks ago and a home loss to USC in their conference opener last weekend, Stanford needed big performances this weekend to get back on track.
The key players did just that.
Bonanni had the most impressive offensive showing, but sophomore utility Alex Bowen and junior 2-meter Forrest Watkins showed up as well, tallying four goals apiece over the two games.
Those three are Stanford’s top goal scorers this season, and they accounted for 14 of the 20 Stanford goals this weekend.
Less likely sources broke the ice this weekend though, as sophomore utility Nick Hoversten and freshman driver B.J. Churnside scored the first two goals on Saturday to jump on top of Santa Barbara. That would be Hoversten’s only goal of the weekend and Churnside’s lone goal of the game.
Five power plays and two scores later, Stanford finished the first quarter ahead 4-0. Santa Barbara finally came up with a goal at the 4:41 mark in the second quarter, and they went into halftime trailing 7-2.
The Cardinal was actually outscored 5-2 after halftime, but the early cushion was more than enough to prevent any late-game drama.
On Sunday, Pepperdine actually was in the lead early on. The waves went ahead 2-1 in the first, and then 3-2 early on in the second. That would be their last lead, though, as Stanford scored the next four goals of the second quarter to break open a 6-3 halftime lead.
Stanford’s defense stifled Pepperdine, allowing only 13 shots all game and only one goal in both the second and third quarters.
Overall, the defense did a good job of limiting opponent shots this weekend. Junior goalie Scott Platshon made 17 saves over the two games, only one more than he made in the single game against USC last week.
Stanford is now 2-1 against Santa Barbara this season. The two teams had traded wins in earlier tournaments. The Cardinal win marked the first win by the away team in the season series.
A five-goal win over Pepperdine is more of the same for Stanford, which defeated the Waves 13-8 back on Sept. 30.
Stanford now has a week to prepare for its annual Big Splash<\p>–<\p>the conference tilt with rival UC-Berkeley. The Golden Bears have wilted thus far in conference play in the face of the toughest MPSF schedule of any team. They are 0-2 in the league after losses to No. 1 USC and No. 3 UCLA.