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Men’s water polo heads into MPSF postseason

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This weekend, No. 1 men’s water polo (17-2, 2-1 MPSF) will enter the MPSF tournament in Berkeley. Coming off of a big 17-11 win last weekend against No. 3 UCLA (16-3, 1-2 MPSF), the Cardinal has momentum in their favor.

Stanford is seeded second in the tournament, delaying their first game until 1 p.m. on Saturday in the semifinals. They will likely rematch UCLA (16-3, 1-2 MPSF) in this game, who is seeded third in the tournament. The Cardinal has beaten UCLA both times they played them this season.

The first matchup against the Bruins this season was in September. The Cardinal pulled ahead in the first quarter and extended that lead throughout the game, ending with a final score of 13-9. The second game this past weekend had an even larger margin of victory; the first quarter ended with a five-goal lead, and redshirt junior 2M Ben Hallock dominated the field with five goals.

If Stanford defeats UCLA a third time — as they are seeded to do — they will likely go head-to-head with top-seed USC (13-4, 3-0 MPSF) in MPSF finals at 3 p.m. on Sunday. If this game happens, the Cardinal will be looking for revenge, as USC has come out on top the last three times these two teams faced each other. USC snagged a narrow 9-8 victory earlier this season, and last season, then-No. 3 USC defeated No. 1 Stanford to win in the NCAA championships.

Despite the past few losses to USC, the Cardinal should be hopeful this weekend. This season, USC has lost to Pepperdine once and to Pacific twice, two teams Stanford has beaten. The Cardinal and Trojans will be very evenly matched, lending to an exciting game.

Hallock has been on fire the past few games, scoring a total of eighteen goals over the past four games. As the center of the Cardinal offense, Hallock has the looks of being a big-impact player this weekend. With the help of junior driver Tyler Abramson and senior driver Bennett Williams, Hallock and the Stanford offense should continue to be unstoppable this weekend.

Following the MPSF tournament, the season will conclude with the NCAA tournament on Dec. 7-8.

Contact Natalie Hilderbrand at nhild ‘at’ stanford.edu.