The No. 5 men’s water polo team (20-6, 5-3 MPSF) blew away Santa Clara Tuesday night with a shutout 20-0 victory. This was the third matchup between the two teams this season, with the Cardinal coming out on top 18-0 and 18-5 in their previous meetings.
After defeating No. 9 Pepperdine 21-11 last Friday, Stanford displayed further athletic dominance against Santa Clara. The Cardinal came away with an easy victory in their second-to-last game of the regular season, winning their sixth-straight game, as they prepare to play No. 2 Cal (20-5, 6-2) this weekend.
This game also marked Stanford’s third shutout for the season, as the Cardinal had previously held the Broncos and the UC Irvine Anteaters scoreless in September and earlier this month, respectively.
“To shut a team out at this level is a very, very difficult thing to do,” head coach John Vargas said. “It hasn’t been done in years here, and to do it three times in one season—that’s a real credit to these guys. We might not see that again for a while.”
Junior Jackson Kimbell started off the scoring for the Cardinal, netting a goal within the first 90 seconds. Just over two minutes later, senior Adam Abdulhamid launched a bullet into the cage. The last two minutes of the quarter, however, belonged to senior Bret Bonanni, who scored three goals: one from a fast break, one off an assist from senior BJ Churnside and another one in the last three seconds that bounced off the side of the post and the goalie before heading into the cage.
“The overall goal is to try to win,” Bonanni said of his scoring successes. “If you end up scoring, you end up scoring and if you don’t, you don’t … the number one goal is to win NCAAs, regardless of how many goals I score.”
Heading into the second quarter 5-0, junior Reid Chase and freshman Blake Parrish scored early before both teams went four minutes without scoring. Churnside scored with 24 seconds left in the half, bringing the score to 8-0.
The Cardinal scored seven goals in the third quarter, including a lob shot by Bonanni that was shoved in by Abdulhamid. Junior Justin Roberto had two consecutive goals in the quarter, and Chase netted a goal in the last 40 seconds, increasing the Cardinal’s lead to 15-0.
The fourth quarter was dominated by some of the younger talent on the team. Sophomore Cody Smith scored the first two goals of the quarter, increasing his season total to 24. Sophomore Grady Williams and freshman Marco Stanchi later scored before a double exclusion in which Stanchi and Bronco Garrat Johnson were both sent to the ejection box for the allotted 20 seconds.
During this unusual period of five-on-five water polo, sophomore Spencer Rogers scored a goal with an assist from sophomore Harrison Enright. This would be the final goal of the game, as sophomore goalkeeper Oliver Lewis, who played in the second half after junior Drew Holland was taken out after the first half, made a fantastic block in the final second of the game.
Though the Cardinal had previously blown out the Broncos, they did not allow this to affect their game plan.
“The mindset is pretty consistent going into each game: Work hard, work for your teammates, everyone will get their goals and everyone will have their opportunities,” Abdulhamid said. “Getting some confidence back [winning six games in a row] is a big boost.”
The Cardinal have their final home game of the season this Sunday against No. 2 Cal. The “Big Splash” will be taking place at 1 p.m. at the Avery Aquatic Center on Nov. 15.
Contact Selby Sturzenegger at selby ‘at’ stanford.edu.