Widgets Magazine

Men’s Water Polo wins high-scoring thriller

No. 2 Stanford (19-3 overall, 5-1 MPSF) grabbed a 14-12 victory over No. 5 Long Beach State (18-4, 5-1 MPSF) before a very entertained crowd at Avery Aquatic Center on Saturday.

Junior driver Bret Bonanni and senior utility Alex Bowen stole the show, combining for nine goals. Bonanni tied his season high with five goals while Bowen had four.

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Junior driver Bret Bonanni tied his season high in goals with five in leading the Cardinal to a hard-fought victory over Long Beach State. (FRANK CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

Long Beach State played extremely confrontationally throughout, racking up many ejections, but the Cardinal were able to match their physicality and put up a better offensive effort.

Stanford’s first goal of the day came from junior driver Adam Abdulhamid only to be answered by one from the 49ers. Bowen’s first goal came next and started a 4-0 scoring run for the Cardinal, which stretched its lead to 5-1 late in the first quarter. The goals came from Abdulhamid, one from sophomore driver Jackson Kimbell, and Bonanni’s first of the day off of a penalty shot.

Unfortunately for the Cardinal, Long Beach State had an answer for this sudden offensive surge. The 49ers scored the next four goals of the game to tie it up at 5-5 early in the second quarter.

The two teams kept trading goals as Bonanni had two more that were quickly answered by goals from LBSU’s Devin Mefford and Nick Rascon, evening the score at 7-7 going into halftime.

The crowd got more than they bargained for Saturday, witnessing a halftime show of a synchronized swim and dance from the women’s water polo freshman class. This is a tradition that dates back to the beginning of women’s water polo at Stanford.

The Cardinal came out with a lot of firepower behind them in the second half as they went on another surge, scoring three goals. It all started with a goal from junior driver BJ Churnside less than a minute into the third quarter and continued with an exclusion goal from Bonanni and another goal from Bowen to make the score 10-7.

Sophomore goalie Drew Holland was helpful as an offensive force on Saturday as well as leading the Cardinal’s defense. He assisted Bowen’s third quarter goal after making a save by hitting him on a full court pass for a one-on-nobody opportunity in front of the cage.

“It is important to be ready to contribute in all aspects of the game,” said Holland of his impressive offensive effort. He also ended the game with 15 saves.

The third period ended with a goal from LBSU’s Zachary Kappos for their only goal of the quarter to bring the score to 10-8.

Undaunted, the Card opened up the final quarter of play with a goal off an extremely hard shot from Bowen. He added another soon after, picking up his final of the game. Bonanni converted another penalty opportunity which was followed by a score from senior Nick Hoversten.

This 4-0 run brought the Cardinal to its largest lead of the day at 14-10.

Long Beach State had two more goals in them before the end of the final quarter, but it would not be enough to match the offensive effort of the Cardinal. In the end, Stanford walked away with a 14-12 victory.

Stanford’s next matchup is the Big Splash against No.4 California on Saturday. They travel to Berkeley for the 10:30 a.m. game which will be featured live on the Pac-12 Network.

Contact Jamie Neushul at jneushul ‘at’ Stanford.edu

About Jamie Neushul

Jamie Neushul works on water polo coverage for The Daily. She is on the women's water polo team in her sophomore year here at Stanford. She is a double major in Communication and English and aspires to pursue a career in journalism or possibly go to law school. She is from Santa Barbara, California and loves to go to the beach and surf.