No. 5 Cardinal men’s water polo (9-2, 1-1 MPSF) defeated No. 20 Santa Clara (5-9, 1-1) 21-7 on Wednesday night at the Sullivan Aquatic Center in Santa Clara. Stanford stole the match with a season-high 21 goals, barely surpassing its previous season record of 20 goals, set against San Jose State on Sept. 23. This win also marks a three-game win streak for the Cardinal, which could give them momentum for the busy weekend that lies ahead.
The game started off well for Stanford, as the team took an early 5-2 lead in the first quarter. Santa Clara’s two goals came from senior driver Graham McClone and freshman driver Shane Hughes. The second quarter didn’t see much action from either team, as Stanford took an 8-2 lead, keeping the Broncos at a safe distance, and prepared itself to go into the second half of the game with a solid lead and more to come.
The third quarter was the most productive for Stanford, as the team scored 4 goals in two minutes. The quarter ultimately ended 16-2 in the Cardinal’s favor as they proceeded into the final quarter.
The Broncos found a bit more rhythm in the last quarter, as they tallied more than half of their total goals in this period. The first of the goals came by way of senior two-meter Will Grant early in the fourth. His goal was then followed up by another goal each for both McClone and Hughes. Sophomore utility Reilley May and freshman driver Vinny Sicat contributed the last two Bronco goals.
Stanford did not relent in the last quarter, despite some revamping of Bronco efforts. Another five goals were produced by the Cardinal team, ending the match with an impressive scoreboard. Sophomore driver Blake Parrish led Cardinal efforts with a career-high 7 goals during the match. Parrish has been at the head of the pack all season and is now leading the team with 28 goals. The sophomore has scored in 10 of 11 games, scoring multiple times in nine.
Other important assets to the team included teammates from all four years. Freshmen Bennett Williams and Dylan Woodhead each contributed a goal to the game, and fellow sophomore driver Mitchell Mendoza posted three while two-meter Marco Stanchi scored twice. Junior two-meter Spencer Rogers, junior driver Sam Pfeil and junior utility Justin Roberto scored twice, twice and once respectively, and senior driver Kyle Weikert also added a goal.
Freshman goalie Andrew Chun played the entire match, posting 9 saves for the Cardinal and helping to keep the other team at a very low score.
The Cardinal are far from done for the week. Next, the team will take on two foes: No. 6 Long Beach State (9-3) and San Jose State (2-4). It has been a long week and will continue to be a long weekend for the Cardinal, and the team will have to be performing its best in order to forge on ahead.
Stanford has already encountered both of these teams this season, during the Mountain Pacific Invitational the weekend of Sept. 23, in which the Cardinal beat Long Beach State 8-6 and San Jose State 20-6.
After this newly established winning streak, the Cardinal will be looking to keep up their momentum and, in particular, win the conference match against the Beach.
The Cardinal’s main threat will be senior attacker Nolan McConnell, who has managed 27 goals in 11 games, but Stanford goalies Oliver Lewis and Chun, backed by a strong defense, should be able to keep McConnell in check.
The 49ers’ one main offensive threat in McConnell, but their defense will have to beware of several Cardinal attack options, which can be found in Parrish; Mendoza, who has managed 21 goals; junior driver Cody Smith, who has been able to post 20; and more. Stanford’s aggressive and accurate offense has been one of its main features this season, and it will be ready to take on such tough opponents.
Long Beach sophomore goalie Thomas Freeman who has averaged 6.96 goals against, will be on high alert, which will require well-placed shots from the Stanford end, given his impressive year so far.
When it comes to San Jose State, Stanford will face a different situation, in which multiple strong offensive players will have to be equally guarded. Junior driver Davor Koret has recorded 10 goals, as has freshman driver Marc Weber.
On the defensive side, none of the Spartans’ goalies have managed particularly low goals-against averages, allowing the Cardinal a bit more leeway in shots.
Stanford will take on Long Beach State and San Jose State on Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m, respectively. The games will both be played on campus at the Avery Aquatic Center.
Contact Laura Sussman at laura111 ‘at’ stanford.edu.