By Cybele Zhang
No. 1 men’s water polo (6-1, 0-0 MPSF) faced its first in-state competition of the year, picking up a win and a loss. On Friday, Stanford fell 10-15 to undefeated No. 2 UC Santa Barbara (13-0, 0-0 GCC) at home, suffering their first college loss of the season. The Cardinal rebounded just a day later on the road, however, in a 16-8 victory at No. 7 UC Davis (4-3, 0-0 WWPA).
Stanford entered Friday’s game undefeated against college opponents, but having lost all four of their exhibition games against international club teams. The highly-ranked Gauchos were the Cardinal’s toughest collegiate competition thus far, and their early scoring left Stanford unable to rebound.
In the opening half, UCSB jumped to an early 6-1 lead, challenging the Cardinal defense. Prior to the game against Santa Barbara, Stanford held opponents to a meager 3.8 goals per game in their first five games. Redshirt junior 2M and 2018 Peter J. Cutino Award winner Ben Hallock led a comeback, however, and scored a goal to close out the half.
Back from the break, Hallock again found the back of the net, narrowing the Gauchos lead to three. Senior driver Dylan Woodhead tacked on another, and Hallock scored his third — making the score 7-5 with two minutes left in the third period.
With five minutes left the score was 10-8, but the UCSB defense came out on top, keeping the Cardinal out of the goal.
Much of the Santa Barbara victory was thanks to their strong defense and goalkeeping, which kept Stanford’s big scorers, Hallock, Woodhead and senior driver Bennett Williams, corralled.
Boasting a Sep. 14 overtime 16-13 upset over No. 5 Berkeley (6-3, 0-0 MPSF), the Aggies came into Saturday’s game looking for another Big Four victory, but Stanford cut their plans short at the seven-team Aggie Roundup.
Flipping Friday’s narrative, the Cardinal jumped out to an early lead. By halftime, Stanford was up 9-4 at the Schaal Aquatics Center.
In the third quarter, the Cardinal added four more goals and only allowed one for Davis. The fourth quarter saw both teams find the back of the next three times, but the effort from the Aggies came too little too late.
Hallock and Williams led Stanford in goals, scoring six and five, respectively. Woodhead also made an impact with one goal, three assists, two steals, and he drew two exclusions.
The Cardinal are back in the pool on Friday in Los Angeles for the MPSF Invitational.
Contact Cybele Zhang at cybelez ‘at’ stanford.edu.