Men’s water polo heads to LA for SoCal tournament

Oct. 9, 2015, 1:01 a.m.

Following a brutal overtime loss to rival USC last weekend, No. 3 Stanford men’s water polo (12-2, 0-1 MPSF) is looking to get back on track as it heads down to Los Angeles for the Kap7 SoCal Invitational, which features 16 of the top teams in the nation.

Drew Holland (1)
Junior goalkeeper Drew Holland (above) has been the cornerstone of a Stanford defense that ranks third with a 5.29 goals against per game. (NATHAN STAFFA/The Stanford Daily)

The Cardinal have been strong this season, excelling on both ends of the pool.  Stanford has outscored its opponents 234-75 so far this season as seniors Bret Bonanni and Adam Abdulhamid lead the way with 45 and 37 goals, respectively, while on the defensive front, junior goalkeeper Drew Holland and sophomore goalkeeper Oliver Lewis have a combined 148 saves. The team averages 16.71 goals per game, second only to USC, and is ranked third in defense, giving up 5.29 goals per game.

This weekend Bonanni will also be chipping away at a Stanford and MPSF record: He is only 21 goals away from tying 2004 graduate Tony Azevedo’s record of 332 career goals.

The team heads back to Los Angeles in the wake of a tough loss to USC in overtime last Saturday. Though the game started neck and neck, the Trojans took a big lead in the middle of the third period, leading 8-3. Stanford then scored three goals in the last 2:15 of the third quarter. Abdulhamid cut the USC lead down to one with a near-side shot with a little over a minute to go, while Bonanni launched a shot with only 29 seconds left to tie the game and take it into overtime. USC came on strong in the extra time, scoring 4 unanswered goals and finishing the game with a 12-8 victory. 

The Cardinal had previously beaten USC in a nail-biting 6-5 win in the Kap7 NorCal tournament just two weeks earlier. The Trojans had tried to defeat the Cardinal by shutting down Bonanni, but the strategy backfired, as the rest of the team scored six goals, led by sophomore Mitchell Mendoza, who recorded a hat trick.

After defeating USC, the Cardinal would go on to fall to No. 1 UCLA — another potential matchup for this weekend — in the final. It was a close 8-7 loss after Bonanni brought the team within one point with only 48 seconds left.

In the Kap7 SoCal tournament, Stanford first faces 15th-seeded Concordia on Saturday morning. The two teams met earlier this season, when Stanford won in a 20-3 landslide victory, which featured 4 goals from junior Justin Roberto. Barring a dramatic upset from Concordia, the Cardinal will likely face Long Beach State, which they defeated in the Kap7 NorCal tournament 11-4. Stanford demonstrated impeccable defense in the NorCal tournament, holding both Long Beach State and USC scoreless until the half.

If both Stanford and USC win their first two games, then the two will meet for their third time in four weeks in their third game of the tournament. The Stanford team is hoping to redeem itself after last week’s loss, but the Trojans are looking strong, seeking their fourth straight Kap7 SoCal tournament title. The Cardinal will have to outsmart reigning MPSF player of the week McQuin Baron, USC’s 6-foot-9 sophomore goalie who made 18 saves in Stanford’s overtime loss.

Having won this tournament 12 out of the past 13 years, USC is looking to beat Stanford and then take on top seed and No. 1-ranked UCLA. However, the Cardinal will not go down without a fight, and if Bonanni and Abdulhamid keep up their impressive offense with strong showings from Holland and Lewis in goal, the Kap7 SoCal title is definitely within reach.

The Cardinal’s first game will take place at Loyola Marymount University at 8 a.m. If Stanford wins its first two games, it will then play at Pepperdine with live streaming on

Contact Selby Sturzenegger at selby ‘at’

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