Starting Saturday, No. 1 men’s water polo enters the NCAA championship tournament in Stockton, California. The Cardinal enter the competition after claiming the MPSF tournament title on Nov. 24.
The Cardinal will advance straight to Saturday’s semifinal game at 5 p.m. PST against the winner of No. 2 USC and No. 12 Bucknell. The winner of the semifinal will claim a ticket to the championship game, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Saturday’s game is set up to be a close one, as it will likely be against USC. The Trojans are hungry for revenge after suffering an upset loss in the semifinals of the MPSF tournament to No. 8 Cal. USC defeated the Cardinal already this season in a close match 8-9 decision and has claimed the last three matches. USC will look to extend that streak and compete for a ticket to the championship.
Junior driver Tyler Abramson and senior driver Bennett Williams have the looks of making a big impact in Saturday’s game. Against USC earlier this season, junior center Ben Hallock was limited to only one goal after the Trojans effectively shut him down with their drop defense. However, the defense allowed Abramson and Williams to fire off outside shots, scoring four and two times, respectively.
Should Stanford advance to the championship game, its highest ranked opponent would be either Pepperdine or Pacific, both tied for No. 3. The Cardinal defeated both teams in close games this season, so both opponents will be looking for revenge in Sunday’s championship.
NCAA tournament play for the Cardinal kicks off Saturday at 5 p.m. from the Chris Kjeldsen Pool in Stockton, California.
Contact Natalie Hilderbrand at nhild ‘at’ stanford.edu.