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M. Water Polo: Card rides offensive explosion to wins over UC-Davis, Santa Clara

The offensive fireworks continued this weekend for No. 3 Stanford (14-4, 4-2 MPSF) as it scored 18 goals on Saturday against UC-Davis before recording a season high of 24 goals on Sunday, trouncing Santa Clara 24-7.

Sophomore Alex Bowen recorded two hat tricks over the weekend en route to Stanford’s dominant victories over UC-Davis and Santa Clara. The No. 3 Cardinal extended its winning streak to six and hopes to knock off No. 2 UCLA this Saturday. (LARRY GE/The Stanford Daily)

Four players—freshman driver Bret Bonanni, sophomore utility Alex Bowen, freshman driver B.J. Churnside and redshirt sophomore Nick Hoversten—recorded hat tricks in both games. Two more players had hat tricks against Santa Clara, and nine players scored in all.

Both games were out of conference, providing something of a respite from the more grueling Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) regular season schedule. The top nine teams in the nation are all from the MPSF, while Davis is at No. 16 and Santa Clara at No. 19.

“It’s nice to have just a break from MPSF teams,” said redshirt junior goalie Scott Platshon. “It lets us work on getting in sync on defense, trying a few new plays, seeing what’s working and what’s not working.”

Platshon made ten saves in the first game, and then was given a rest for the second game, during which redshirt freshman Clayton Evans and redshirt junior Hunter Ploch split playing time.

The Cardinal allowed seven goals in each game, a higher number than they had hoped against these opponents.

Platshon doesn’t necessarily see the goals scored against the Cardinal this weekend as something to dwell on, however.

“It was a really good chance for us work on some stuff and prep for our game at UCLA where the defense is going to need to be even a step better,” he said.

Not to mention that this weekend’s games were never closely contested. Stanford scored the first four unanswered goals on Saturday at Davis, and then they topped that by scoring the first six goals of the game against Santa Clara.

With the easy wins, the Cardinal is now in the midst of a six-game winning streak, its longest of the season. Since its brutal 14-8 loss to Cal over three weeks ago, Stanford has outscored its opponents by a score of 87-34.

In that stretch they have scored at least 12 goals in each game, and have won every game (except for a closer-than-hoped 12-11 victory over Long Beach State) by a margin of 11 or more goals.

Stanford is now in sole possession of third place in the MPSF standings with a 4-2 record, trailing 6-0 USC and 4-0 UCLA. The team has a chance to surpass the Bruins for second place if it takes care of business at UCLA next weekend. Stanford would also have to win its MPSF finale against Pacific and hope that UCLA loses to the Trojans in its final game.

The Cardinal will be hoping that they can repeat the offensive variety from this weekend, as their goal scoring has been increasingly limited to Bonanni and Bowen. Bonanni held onto his spot as the MPSF’s second leading scorer, while Bowen is sixth.

No other Stanford player is in the top 25 in goals per game. If either member of the two-pronged scoring attack is shut down, it has yet to be shown that other players will step up and pick up the slack.

This Friday at No. 2 UCLA will be a big test for the Cardinal’s potent offense, and we will find out if Bonanni and Bowen have enough firepower to bring home a victory against an elite team, or if this past weekend’s prolific scoring success can continue.

Saturday’s contest between Stanford and UCLA is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start time.