STOCKTON, Calif. – Second-seeded Stanford men’s water polo ended Friday’s MPSF Tournament quarterfinal with seven straight goals, turning around a 6-5 deficit and going on to a 12-6 victory over No. 7 Long Beach State in Stockton.
Paul Rudolph, who scored four times for the Cardinal Friday, pulled the Cardinal even with 3:26 left in the frame then broke the tie with 59 seconds left. Alex Bowen converted a penalty shot 41 seconds later to break the game open.
Bret Bonanni scored two of his five goals 43 seconds apart in the fourth quarter to put the Cardinal up 10-6, while goalie Drew Holland and the Cardinal defense held the 49ers scoreless over the final 15:01 to seal the win.
Holland ended the contest with a season-high 16 saves. Along with the nine combined goals from Bonanni and Rudolph, Stanford also got scores from Bowen, BJ Churnside and Forrest Watkins.
Stanford (20-4) advances to the semifinals, where it will take on the winner of Friday’s UCLA-UC Santa Barbara game. Saturday’s semifinal is set for a 3 p.m. start and fans can watch the game live online at Pacific’s MPSF Tournament Central page located HERE.
The Cardinal extended its season-best winning streak to 10 games, and hit the 20-win mark for the first time since going 21-4 in 2009.
Friday’s contest was very tight between the teams into the third quarter, as they traded the lead three times and were tied six times. Neither side led by more than a goal until Bowen’s penalty put the Cardinal up 8-6.
Long Beach State (19-13) stubbornly matched Stanford’s first two goals, the second equalizer coming from Devin Mefford with 46 seconds left in the first period. The 49ers would take a 3-2 lead 51 seconds into the second period but back-to-back goals from Bonanni and Rudolph would put the Cardinal back in front at 4-3 by the 6:17 mark of the frame. Rudolph put the Cardinal ahead 5-4 just over a minute before halftime but Zacchary Kappos would score a 6-on-5 goal three seconds before the horn to send it to break tied at 5-5.
Carter Taylor, who scored twice for the 49ers, put them in front 6-5 59 seconds into the half, but from there it would be all Cardinal the rest of the way.
Long Beach State – 2 3 1 0 = 6
Stanford – 2 3 3 4 = 12
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bonanni 5, Rudolph 4, Bowen, Churnside, Watkins
Long Beach State Goal Scorers: Taylor 2, Guimares, Goodenough, Kappos, Melford
Goalie Saves: Holland 16 (S); Ljepopio 9 (LBS)