STOCKTON, Calif. – USC’s 3-0 run in the middle of the third period put Stanford into a five-goal hole from which it could not climb out of Sunday, and the Cardinal fell 10-8 to the Trojans in the MPSF Tournament final in Stockton.
The Cardinal (21-5) had its 11-game winning streak snapped and fell just short of its first MPSF Tournament title since 2004. Despite the loss, Stanford is in good position to earn one of two at-large berths into the NCAA Championship tournament when the six-team field is announced tonight between 8-8:30 p.m. PT.
A bid to the championship event would be Stanford’s first since reaching the NCAA final in 2008, and the Cardinal hosts this year’s event, set for Thursday, Dec. 5 and Saturday to Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8, at Avery Aquatic Center.
Bret Bonanni and BJ Churnside scored three goals apiece Sunday, while Alex Bowen added a pair. Goalie Drew Holland made 10 saves for the Cardinal.
Sunday started well for the Cardinal, as Bonanni scored with just 1:03 gone on the clock, but that 1-0 advantage would end up being the only lead Stanford would own. USC, however, would respond with goals from Jeremy Davie, Jon Walters and Mace Rapsey to take a 3-1 lead by the end of the frame.
Churnside halved the deficit 46 seconds into the second period but again USC would answer, this time building its lead to three at 5-2 with goals from Kostas Genidounias and Nikola Vavic. Bonanni and Vavic would trade goals before the end of the half, making it 6-3 in USC’s favor at the break.
The start of the second half, in which the game turned, mirrored the start of the game, as the Cardinal scored quickly to start brightly before the Trojans answered with three goals to take control. Three goals in a span of 2:44 for the Trojans from Connor Virjee, Walters and Zach Lucas turned a 6-4 game into a 9-4 advantage.
The teams traded goals before the end of the frame, and in the final period the Cardinal defense dug in to hold the Trojans scoreless. However, the comeback attempt fell short, as USC’s defense held up. Bowen scored with 1:57 to go to pull Stanford within three, then converted a penalty to make it 10-8 with 1:15 to go. USC used up its 30 seconds and turned it back over to the Cardinal but a foul turned it back to the Trojans, who ran out the clock for the win.
USC – 3 3 4 0 = 10
Stanford – 1 2 2 3 = 8
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bonanni 3, Churnside 3, Bowen 2
USC Goal Scorers: Vavic 2, Walters 2, Butler, Davie, Genidounias, Lucas, Virjee
Goalie Saves: Holland 10 (S); Clark 16 (USC)