Feast in the East: Men’s water polo perfect in opening weekend tournament

Sept. 6, 2022, 1:41 p.m.

In an exciting weekend that saw three ranked matchups, No. 4 Stanford men’s water polo (4-0, 0-0 MPSF) won all four games in the Bruno Classic. On Saturday, the Cardinal beat Wagner (1-2, 0-0 MAWPC) by a score of 27-6, then proceeded to beat No. 16 Harvard (2-1, 0-0 NWPC) 19-7. The next day, Stanford continued their dominance with a 23-7 win against No. 19 Brown (2-2, 0-0 NWPC) which was followed by a 26-10 win against No. 20 Saint Francis Brooklyn (1-2, 0-0 NWPC). Overall, the Cardinal outscored their opponents 95-30.  

This is Stanford’s first year under a new coaching regime — Stanford tapped head coach Brian Flacks came from Harvard-Westlake School to replace the former three-time MPSF head coach of the year John Vargas, who retired after last season. 

“It was just really exciting to finally get an opportunity to watch these guys compete,” Flacks said. “And I thought they did a wonderful job.”

The first game under Flacks, against the Seahawks, showed that the Cardinal have not missed a step since the coaching change, with Stanford posting its largest point total in a single game since 2015. They came out hot, scoring five goals in the first quarter alone and then another six in the second. In contrast, Wagner struggled, only scoring once in the entire half. By halftime, the Cardinal were up 11-1 still with a full tank of gas.

Headed this time by redshirt freshman 2MD Jack Martin and senior 2M Beck Jurasius, who each scored two goals in the third quarter respectively, the Cardinal went on a third-quarter scoring rampage, scoring seven times in comparison to Wagner’s three, which was the Seahawks’ highest total of any quarter this game. 

Martin and Jurassius would continue their hot scoring into the fourth quarter, where they helped lead the Cardinal to an eight-goal performance — that is one goal per minute. This scoring output, which increased the points per quarter throughout the game, paved the way for a dominant 27-6 victory.

Martin led the Cardinal with a four-goal performance, followed by Jurasius who scored three. Freshman driver Chase McFarland tied Jurasius with a hat trick, with the former scoring his three in three different quarters. Following them, multiple players scored two goals including junior drivers Ethan Parrish, Soren Jensen and Jackson Painter, junior 2M Ike Love and graduate student driver Quinn Woodhead. 

“We have one true freshman playing, Chase McFarland,” Flacks said. “And then we have a whole bunch of guys last year that were redshirt freshmen that I thought did a really nice job and their first intercollegiate debuts bringing energy and doing a good job pushing transitions.”

Following the morning match, Stanford faced the home team, Harvard, in the first ranked matchup of the season. While the scoring was not as high, the Cardinal were still able to produce a well-rounded offensive performance. 

Stanford opened the match strong with a six-point first-quarter performance, led by Parrish, who scored two of them. Harvard matched this output with only one goal, however, the second quarter would prove more fruitful for the Crimson. In the closest scoring quarter for Stanford yet, the Cardinal only scored one more point than the hometown team, giving Stanford a six-point advantage going into the half, up 10-4.

Coming out of the break, both teams were sluggish. After a few scores, and back and forth gameplay, the match entered the fourth quarter with Stanford leading by eight.

Emulating their play in the first quarter, the Cardinal began another scoring spree – scoring six goals in the final eight minutes. In the end, Stanford ended as the superior team, beating Harvard 19-7 and giving Flacks his first win against a ranked opponent. 

Leading the way for the Cardinal were again Martin and Woodhead, each converting on the hat trick. Following them, four members of the Cardinal scored two goals, those being Parrish, Jurasius, Love and senior driver Larsen Weigle. 

“It really does help that we got guys like our five seniors,” Flacks said. “Woodhead, [Andrew] Churukian, Weigle, [Walker] Seymour and Jurasius are guys that not only are just fantastic, wonderful players, but really awesome leaders.”

After a good night’s rest, the Cardinal continued their Labor Day weekend with more victories against ranked teams: Brown followed by St. Francis Brooklyn. These games took place in the Bears’ den – in Providence, R.I. as opposed to the previous two games which were played in Cambridge Mass.

Against Brown, Stanford opened up strong, scoring six goals in the first quarter in comparison to the Bears’ two. Jensen scored two of these goals, continuing the momentum from the previous day’s performances. 

The second quarter proved less fruitful for the Cardinal, as they scored only four goals, in comparison to Stanford’s average of just under six goals per quarter this weekend. This small output of scoring was insignificant, however, as the Cardinal entered halftime 10-4.

This low score – relative to the other single-half performances from Stanford – was immediately followed by a 13-point second-half performance, emphasized by a five-goal performance by redshirt freshman driver Grant Watson. In the end, Stanford easily defeated Brown by a score of 23-7.

The Cardinal in this game were led by Watson, who scored six goals overall in this match. Following him, three other players converted on hat tricks – those being junior driver Riley Pittman, Jurasius and Weigle. 

The weekend tournament came to a close with Stanford’s final match against the Terriers. Like the previous three games, the Cardinal started off hot and kept the momentum going throughout the game. By the end of the first half, the Cardinal were up 13-6, with three of Stanford’s scores coming from Weigle’s in the second quarter alone.

The third quarter saw nine Stanford scores, tying the Cardinal record for most goals scored in a quarter in this tournament. Multiple players scored twice in this quarter, which gave the Cardinal a cushy 22-9 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.

Being up by so much, Stanford eased off the gas pedal to give their players a quasi-rest after a fantastic four-game showing. In the end, the Cardinal swam away with their final victory of the Bruno Classic by a score of 26-10.

Leading the way in scoring for Stanford were Weigle and Painter, who each scored four goals. Behind them, Woodhead and Pittman both earned a hat trick. Interestingly, every player who was in the water for the Cardinal, except for junior goalie Nolan Krutonog, added a point to the total score in this game. Overall, it was a sensational scoring soiree this weekend for Stanford.

“Defensively we did a great job forcing turnovers,” Flacks said. “And that allowed us to do kind of what we do best which is get out in transition. So we reinforced a bunch of turnovers each game and I think that allowed us really to get some counterattack advantages.”

Krutonog in specific has a close bond with Flacks, as the new head coach and established goalie were together at Harvard-Westlake from 2016-2020.

“In transitioning to Stanford,” Flacks said. “One of the things it’s made this transition pretty seamless for me has been the fact that we have [Krutonog] engaged and he understands what we’re trying to do.”

Despite the success of this weekend, Flacks still emphasizes the importance of training and improvement to the team.

“We really have to clean up,” Flacks said. “It’s the first week of the season so hopefully, we just continue to get better each practice, each day and each game.”

Looking forward, the Cardinal play their first home games of the season next week. First against No. 10 Pepperdine (2-1, 0-0 GCC) on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 12 p.m., followed by No. 8 UC Santa Barbra (1-2, 0-0 GCC) the next day at 1 p.m.

Noah Maltzman is a staff writer for the sports section. He is originally from Philadelphia but has lived in the Bay Area since 2015. Noah is a sophomore who plans on majoring within the STEM field. He is a Michigan and Detroit sports fan, despite never living in the state of Michigan. In fact, he initially brought more Michigan paraphernalia to college than Stanford apparel. Contact him at sports 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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