After starting the season off with a 7-2 road trip, the men’s water polo team returned home to Avery Aquatic Center to take on Santa Clara Saturday afternoon. The No. 4 Cardinal quickly took control of the match with tight defense and a fast counterattack to secure a resounding 20-5 victory over the No. 15 Broncos.
Santa Clara (9-5) took an early lead in the first quarter when driver Mark Davis skipped a shot past Stanford fifth-year senior goalie Scott Platshon after just over a minute of play. Stanford (8-2) responded quickly and forcefully on the next play when fifth-year senior Forrest Watkins drilled a shot into the high corner from 2 meters. On the next play, Watkins promptly stole the ball from the Broncos and got it to sophomore Bret Bonanni who was beating his defender. With a wide-open cage, Bonanni scored to give the Cardinal a 2-1 lead.
Stanford finished the quarter on a 5-0 run with a goal from junior Alex Bowen and two in a row from redshirt freshman Griffin Bolan at 2 meters. Even with the Bronco defense dropping back on him, Bolan managed to score the last goal of period by getting off a quick sweep shot to the top right corner.
Santa Clara fought back at the beginning of the second quarter, scoring on a six-on-five after a Stanford ejection. However, Stanford would bounce back a few plays later when Bowen intercepted a Santa Clara pass, swam the ball down to the other side and skipped it past the outstretched arms of Santa Clara goalie Matt Pritchett.
At halftime, with Stanford up 8-3, the game was still somewhat within reach for Santa Clara, but Stanford put the Broncos away for good by opening the second half with five goals in a row. The Cardinal’s press defense held the Broncos to only two goals during the final half, outpaced by 12 from the Stanford offense.
Bonanni led the attack, finishing with six goals in the match. Bolan and Bowen each contributed hat tricks, sophomore Adam Abdulhamid, sophomore B.J. Churnside and fifth-year senior Paul Rudolph scored twice while freshman Connor Stapleton and Watkins added one goal apiece.
Later this week, the Card will travel down to Orange County to compete in the UCI Invitational. The tournament will feature other highly ranked teams including Cal, which is currently tied with Stanford for No. 4 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association rankings.
Stanford’s first match is scheduled for 10:50 a.m. Saturday against UC-Davis.
Contact Luke Asperger at lukea17 ‘at’ stanford.edu.