In the opening MPSF match for both teams, No. 5 Stanford men’s water polo (5-1) was defeated 8-4 by the No. 2 USC Trojans (6-0) on Saturday, Sept. 17, at Avery Aquatic Center. Both teams went into the game with undefeated records, and both teams were looking to tally an early MPSF victory to keep them ahead of the pack in the playoff hunt.
The Trojans managed an impressive 3 goals within the first six minutes of play, providing a challenge for the Cardinal to overcome.
But Stanford stepped up to the plate, almost closing back in on the Trojans as junior utility Justin Roberto scored in just the 27th second of the second quarter. Roberto’s goal was closely followed by sophomore driver Blake Parrish’s goal about a minute and a half later.
USC freshman driver Marin Dasic was able to put the ball in the net one last time before the end of the second quarter, leaving the Cardinal down 4-2 at halftime.
The third quarter of the game was relatively quiet, as both teams battled for scoring opportunities. The Trojans committed a number of exclusion fouls, giving Stanford several man-up scoring opportunities. But the Cardinal was shut down by USC’s strong and precise defensive line, including junior goalie McQuin Baron, a member of the USA Olympic Team in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In the final minute of the quarter, Walter once again scored for the Trojans, leading them to a 5-2 advantage into the final period of play.
Trojan freshman Matt Maier scored early in the fourth quarter, but Stanford retaliated, as Parrish scored on a 5-meter penalty shot. USC then fought back, with junior driver Grant Stein earning their seventh goal of the game.
Stanford freshmen scored the Cardinal’s final goal, which was then followed by a closing goal by USC’s junior driver Blake Edwards.
Junior goalie Oliver Lewis posted an impressive 16 stops. So far, Lewis has averaged 10.3 saves per game in the three games that he has played.
This season’s top goal scorers thus far have been redshirt sophomore driver Mitchell Mendoza with 15 goals, Parrish with 13 and junior driver Cody Smith with 12.
Although the Cardinal had their first loss at the initiation of their MPSF season, their solid statistics and overall performance predict a strong season and myriad of possibilities to succeed within their conference and beyond.
The team will have another opportunity to test its strengths and improve on weaknesses as it takes on San Jose State on Friday, Sept. 23, at the Mountain Pacific Invitational in Berkeley.
Contact Laura Sussman at laura111 ‘at’ stanford.edu.