The No. 5 Stanford men’s water polo team (18-6, 4-3 MPSF) looks to continue its winning streak this Friday night when it faces a struggling Pepperdine squad (11-10, 1-4).
The Cardinal have bounced back from their tough four-game losing streak several weeks ago and have answered with four consecutive wins, helping them in their quest to earn a bid in the NCAA tournament.
In particular, two big wins last weekend against No. 8 Long Beach State and No. 7 UC Irvine have given Stanford a wave of momentum that it can ride into this Friday evening’s match.
Performances by senior Bret Bonanni and junior goalkeeper Drew Holland in last weekend’s matches were especially notable. Bonanni’s six-goal performance against Long Beach State secured him the new record for number of goals at Stanford and in the MPSF, beating out former Stanford All-American and Pac-12 Conference Player of the Century Tony Azevedo ’04 for the throne. Bonanni added 2 more goals against Irvine to bring his career total as of now to 339.
Meanwhile, Holland’s determination refused to let a single shot slip into the net against UC Irvine, moving his personal record in number of saves in one game from 13 to 23.
Needless to say, Pepperdine, currently ranked seventh in the MPSF, could be facing an uphill battle as it jumps into Stanford’s pool on Friday.
Given that the Stanford Cardinal and Pepperdine Waves have not gone head-to-head this season, their most recent matchup was on Oct. 16 of last year. In that game, Stanford went on the road and achieved a comfortable win, finishing with 13 goals against Pepperdine’s 4.
This year, the Waves are struggling to keep their heads above the .500 mark while the Cardinal boast a more comfortable winning record, hovering around .750, and though the two have accumulated their losses against several of the same teams (UCLA, USC, and Pacific), Stanford has dominated in many matchups in which Pepperdine has not come through with the win (particularly against UC Irvine and Long Beach St.).
Pepperdine’s main offensive threats come in senior attacker Wesley Sherburne and freshman utility player Marko Asic, who lead the team with 33 goals apiece. Containing this pair will be essential for Stanford if it wishes to control the game.
Although the Stanford men’s water polo team is coming in on a strong note against a struggling team, the Cardinal still need to come out firing. There is no reason to take the game lightly, and as the post-season quickly approaches, every win counts.
Stanford’s game against the Pepperdine Waves will be played on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Avery Aquatic Center.
Contact Lauren Wegner at lwegner ‘at’ stanford.edu.