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No. 3 men’s water polo dethrones No. 1 Trojans and dominates UCSB

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No. 3 Stanford (17-2, 3-0 MPSF) remained undefeated in conference with a record of 2-0 after a huge and exciting 11-10 win against the No. 1 USC Trojans (16-3, 2-1 MPSF).

Junior driver BJ Churnside constantly had an answer for USC, scoring three of his four goals in the fourth quarter. The Cardinal and Trojans kept trading goals and were tied at 9-9, 10-10 and 11-11, but Churnside had the go-ahead goal for Stanford each time, propelling them to victory.

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BJ Churnside led the team with four goals in the 11-10 victory. (NATHAN STAFFA/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford opened up the game with a goal from senior utility Alex Bowen, only to be answered by the Trojans. The Cardinal took the lead again behind a goal from redshirt sophomore Adam Abdulhamid, but USC closed the first quarter of play with a goal, equalizing the score at 2-2.

Abdulhamid earned himself a hat trick in the second quarter, pouring in two more goals, accompanied by a goal from junior driver Bret Bonnani. These three consecutive goals gave the Cardinal its biggest lead of the game at 5-2 going into halftime.

Unlike the first two quarters, USC would be the first to post a goal to start the second half. The Trojans had another goal putting them within one and the score at 5-4.

Churnside, as seen later in the game as well, had an answer, increasing Stanford’s lead to two again.

USC responded with a goal only to be matched by sophomore driver Sam Pfeil for his first and only goal of the game. Bonnani would add his second and final goal of the game off of a powerful penalty shot, increasing Stanford’s lead to a commanding three yet again at 8-5.

USC wasn’t ready to give up yet. The Trojans answered with a goal at the buzzer to end the third period. The Trojans opened up the fourth and final quarter of play with two more goals, tying the game at 8-8.

That’s when Churnside, with ice in his veins, began his three-goal journey.

After senior center Conner Cleary earned an ejection, Churnside grabbed the ball at the center of the cage and beat USC’s goalie to the left hand side of the goal.

Churnside’s next 6 on 5 goal would put the Cardinal ahead 10-9. He beat the USC goalie and many defenders by faking and lobbing a strike into the right corner of the goal.

USC had its last answer, tying the game at 10-10, but Churnside was not done yet.

Firing the game-winner into the lower left corner of the cage, Churnside capitalized on yet another man-up opportunity for the Cardinal.

The junior driver was not the only Stanford player with an outstanding performance. Stanford’s sophomore goalie Drew Holland had yet another amazing game for the Cardinal. He made a career-high 20 saves, surpassing the 17 he had two weeks ago against UCI. Drew has consistently fueled Stanford’s defense all season.

“Our whole goal was to shut them down early,” Holland said.

Drew’s remarkable gamed earned him a second MPSF Player of the Week award. Holland is the only two-time winner in 2014.

“It all comes down to defense,” said Holland.

Stanford had little time for celebration after toppling the nation’s No. 1 team. They headed down to UC Santa Barbara for another MPSF matchup against the No. 8 Gauchos right after Saturday’s victory.

The Cardinal saw many multi-goal efforts in its dominant 13-6 win over the Gauchos. Bonnani poured in four goals while Bowen, sophomore Jackson Kimbell, senior Nick Hoversten and sophomore driver Reid Chase added two a piece.

Stanford had a strong first half gaining a four-goal lead at 6-2. The Gauchos had an answer behind Samer Alkateb, but Reid Chase increased Stanford’s lead to five, leaving the score at 8-3.

It was smooth sailing from then on for the Cardinal as it earned itself a demanding 12-4 lead going into the final quarter

Sophomore driver Connor Stapleton scored the last goal for Stanford, and the Cardinal held UCSB to six goals, ending the game 13-6.

The Cardinal are back in action again for their third meeting against UCLA this season on October 24.

Contact Jamie Neushul at jneushul ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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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.