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No. 4 Stanford fails to 4-peat

Men’s water polo falls to Bruins in MPSF finals, ending season 

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Bernardo Maurizi and Felix Brozyna-Vilim kept the Cardinal from the NCAA Tournament and from a 4-peat of the MPSF championship on Sunday.

The former, UCLA’s junior goalkeeper, held the Cardinal to 10 goals to give the No. 3 Bruins (19-3, 1-2 MPSF) their first conference title since 2015. The latter, a redshirt senior utility, logged a hat trick which included a back-handed dagger in the 11-10 Bruin victory at Avery Aquatic Center to end the Cardinal’s season.

The two teams had already faced one another twice heading into the game, with Stanford dropping both. But this weekend’s game was the most important meeting as the conference title was on the line.

No. 4 Stanford (19-6, 0-3 MPSF) will have to be content, however, with three consecutive conference titles from 2018 to 2020, being runners-up in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) and a 12-11 double-overtime upset over No. 1 California (20-4, 4-0 MPSF) in Saturday’s semifinals.

Even with this resume, the Cardinal will not continue in the postseason. Hours after the MPSF tournament concluded, the NCAA announced selections for the national championship. UCLA, Cal and No. 3 USC (17-2, 2-1 MPSF) all made the cut — but not Stanford. 

Despite finishing ahead of both the Bears and Trojans in the MPSF tournament the Cardinal posted a combined 1-6 record against the three teams during the regular season.

While Saturday’s victory over the Gold Bears was neck-and-neck — Stanford held the largest lead of the contest by going up 2-0 in the first quarter and forced double-overtime — the Bruins were quick to take a lead on the MPSF tournament hosts. Sophomore goalkeeper Nolan Krutonog allowed the Bruins to score five goals in the second while the offense failed to answer.

In each of the two contests — first Cal, then UCLA — Krutonog saved exactly eight shots while allowing 11 goals. The difference in outcomes came from the other side of the pool. Cal goalkeeper Adrian Weinberg only saved four of the Cardinal’s 16 shots-on-goal, while Maurizi saved nine-of-19.

Tyler Abramson, who has led Stanford’s offense through much of the second half of the season, continued to be the top-scorer on the team. The graduate student driver scored four goals on Saturday against the Bears, including the game-winner to lift the Cardinal to the finals, and replicated his performance with a hat trick on Sunday against the Bruins.

Senior driver Quinn Woodhead finished second for the Cardinal in goals both on Sunday and on the season. Woodhead scored twice in the finals twice the other regular contributors to Stanford’s offense — senior two-meter defender AJ Rossman, junior two-meter Beck Jurasius and redshirt sophomore driver Walker Seymour — could only find the back of the cage once each on Sunday. 

Sunday’s defeat by UCLA marks the Cardinal’s fourth straight loss against the Bruins, who beat Stanford in the semifinals of last year’s NCAA Championship.

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Michael Espinosa '22 is majoring in international relations. He's the head of The Daily's social media team, and editor for the University beat and also occasionally writes for sports, arts, and The Grind. He's the biggest Taylor Swift fan at Stanford and the proudest New Yorker you will ever meet. Contact him at mespinosa 'at' stanforddaily.com.