Fifth-year senior Forrest Watkins broke an 8-8 deadlock with 1:17 to go in the second overtime period Saturday night to give No. 5 Stanford a 9-8 come-from-behind win over No. 3 Pacific and send the Cardinal into Sunday’s NorCal Invitational semifinals.
Waiting for the Cardinal in Sunday’s semifinal at Spieker Aquatics Complex will be top-ranked USC. The contest is set for a 10:50 a.m. start.
Playing Saturday’s contests at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Stanford opened the draw with a 17-5 win over No. 12 UC Davis in the morning.
Bret Bonanni led the Cardinal offense Saturday with eight goals over the two games, netting four in each. Watkins scored both of his goals against Pacific while BJ Churnside had two goals in each contest and freshman Jackson Kimbell posted a hat trick in the morning.
Freshman Drew Holland went the distance against Pacific, making 12 saves. In the morning contest, Holland played the opening period and made four saves while Scott Platshon played the final three periods, stopping four shots.
The Cardinal had its work cut out for it early against Pacific as the Tigers took a 4-0 lead into the second period. Kevin Oliveira opened the scoring 1:51 into the contest, then Balazs Erdelyi and Alex Obert scored at the 5:32 and 4:48 marks to make it 3-0 less than halfway through the frame. Goran Tomasevic would make it 4-0 with 1:16 left and the Cardinal looked to be on the ropes early.
Stanford managed to quickly pull two goals back in the second period’s opening 1:05 as BJ Churnside scored twice within 42 seconds, but 34 seconds later Oliveira nullified the first goal with his second and Obert got the Tiger lead back to four at the 5:37 mark.
Down 6-2, Stanford refused to bow. Bonanni scored with 3:58 on the clock and Conner Cleary found the back of the net with 1:23 left in the half to halve the lead at 6-4. Forty-eight seconds before the horn Bonanni would cash in again, pulling the Cardinal to within a goal at 6-5.
Stanford’s run extended to 4-0 with 6:32 to go in the third period as Watkins netted his first of the game. The teams would remain deadlocked for the next 10:16 until the Cardinal, on the man advantage, scored its fifth straight goal to take its first lead of the game at 7-6 with 4:16 remaining. The lead would last just a minute and a half as Pacific drew a five-meter penalty at the 2:45 mark and Erdelyi converted the equalizer. The reigning Cutino Award winner would find the net again just 48 seconds later to put the Tigers in front by a goal but Bonanni would come through 37 seconds later to knot the score at 8-8 and send it into overtime.
The teams battled through a scoreless three-minute session and remained tied up halfway into the second session until Watkins scored the eventual winner at the 1:17 mark. The Cardinal defense then fought off a 5-on-6 situation with a minute remaining to take home the win.
The tournament opened well in the morning for the Cardinal, which jumped out to a 4-0 lead within the opening 4:08 against the Aggies. Bonanni opened the scoring 43 seconds into the contest with Churnside doubling the lead 21 seconds later. Churnside would net his second with 5:29 to go in the period and then Alex Bowen got on the board with 3:52 on the clock to make it 4-0.
Mark Coufal got the Aggies on the board less than a minute later, and the teams traded goals between Reid Chase and Bernie Rogers to end the frame with the Cardinal in front, 5-2.
Rogers got UC Davis to within a pair at 5-3 just over a minute into the second period, but that would end up being as close as the Aggies got all day. Kimbell and Bonanni went back-to-back to get the lead to four at 7-3, and Coufal and Kimbell traded goals before the end of the frame to make it 8-4 Stanford at the break.
Stanford broke the game open in the third period, scoring six times while holding UC Davis to just one goal over the eight minutes. Bonanni scored the first two of the first three goals of the half, sandwiching a goal from Bowen, to start a 5-0 Cardinal run which also included goals from Kimbell and Griffin Bolan. After UC Davis got its goal Bolan re-established the nine-goal cushion before the end of the frame.
UC Davis – 2 2 1 0 = 5
Stanford – 5 3 6 3 = 17
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bonanni 4, Bowen 4, Kimbell 3, Bolan 2, Churnside 2, Chase, Cleary
UC Davis Goal Scorers: Coufal 2, Rogers 2, Vigeant
Goalie Saves: Holland 4, Platshon 4 (S); Bates 7 (UCD)
Stanford – 0 5 1 2 0-1 = 9
Pacific – 4 2 0 2 0-0 = 8
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bonanni 4, Churnside 2, Watkins 2, Cleary
Pacific Goal Scorers: Erdelyi 3, Obert 2, Oliveira 2, Tomasevic
Goalie Saves: Holland 12 (S), Hughes (P)