The No. 5 Stanford men’s water polo team (19-6, 5-3 MPSF) swept away the No. 9 Pepperdine Waves (11-12, 1-6) 21-11 Friday evening at the Avery Aquatic Center, putting on a strong offensive showing that bodes well for the Cardinal as the postseason inches closer.
The Cardinal went into this weekend riding a wave of confidence following four straight wins, two of which featured record-breaking performances. Against Long Beach State last weekend, senior Bret Bonanni broke the Stanford and MPSF record for most career goals by scoring his 333rd. The next day, junior goalkeeper Drew Holland posted an MPSF-record 23 saves in a shutout win against Pacific.
The momentum continued through the match against Pepperdine, as 10 different players recorded goals. It was the seventh time this season that Stanford has scored over 20 goals.
Bonanni proved to be too much for the Pepperdine defense, adding another 6 goals to his career total. Meanwhile, sophomore Cody Smith and senior BJ Churnside both recorded hat tricks, while freshman Blake Parrish and junior Reid Chase each added two goals to the Cardinal scoreboard.
Pepperdine came out fighting, making several strong attempts in its first few possessions and scoring the first goal of the game after 1:40 of play. However, Parrish responded within a short 30 seconds to even the score. At the end of the first quarter of play, Stanford led Pepperdine 5-2.
The second quarter was an offensive lull for both teams, as Stanford scored two goals and Pepperdine scored just one. The Cardinal defense forced Pepperdine to take its shots from distance, while several attempts by Stanford were near misses, including a nice backhand attempt by junior Connor Stapleton at the conclusion of the first half.
It was in the third quarter that the Cardinal really showed up to play. Churnside opened the quarter with a pair of scores, followed by eight goals by six different players in the next five minutes. The Cardinal ended the quarter with 10 goals, while limiting Pepperdine to only three, making the score 17-6.
In the final quarter of play, with the game already far out of reach, Pepperdine was able to register five goals to Stanford’s four, resulting in a final score of 21-11. The stars of the second half were Pepperdine’s freshman Marko Asic, with two goals in both the third and fourth quarters, and Stanford’s Bonanni, who notched five of his six goals after the intermission.
It was Stanford’s 12th consecutive victory against Pepperdine, a record dating back to 2009, and its fifth consecutive win.
Next up Stanford will prepare for its last matches of the regular season against No. 17 Santa Clara and No. 2 Cal. The team will have to play some of its best ball to close out the regular season with a pair of wins and then make it deep into the MPSF tournament.
“Working on some things defensively, that’s been our biggest focus — and making sure that each guy is just working on the details of becoming a little bit better of a player defensively,” said head coach John Vargas about how the team needs to improve.
Stanford will face Santa Clara at home on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.
Contact Lauren Wegner at lwegner ‘at’ stanford.edu.