Stanford scored eight times in the first period and had 10 different players score in a 20-3 victory over sixth-seeded Whittier College in Thursday’s NCAA Men’s Water Polo Championship play-in game at Avery Aquatic Center.
Stanford (22-5) will go on to face No. 2 Pacific in Saturday’s semifinal round at 2:45 p.m. It will be the fourth meeting of the schools this season, with Pacific holding a 2-1 edge.
Saturday's semifinals, as well as Sunday's contests, will be streamed live online at www.NCAA.com.
“We wanted to play hard from the start to the end [today],” said Stanford head coach John Vargas, before being asked about Saturday’s opponent. “[Pacific] is good. They arguably have the two best players in the country. We have been preparing for them and we will be ready to play.”
Whittier College ends its season with a 20-13 record.
Forrest Watkins scored his two goals within the game’s opening 2:47 and the Cardinal never looked back. Freshman Griffin Bolan scored 48 seconds later to make it 3-0 and would go on to score a game-high four goals. Fellow freshman Reid Chase also posted a hat trick.
Goalies Drew Holland and Scott Platshon each made five saves, as Platshon manned the cage for the final three periods.
The Cardinal attack was too much for the Poets Thursday, as five different Cardinal players scored goals over the final 2:45 of the first period to make it 8-0. Bolan, BJ Churnside, Bret Bonanni, Jackson Kimbell and Connor Stapleton would add goals in the second period to give the Cardinal a 13-0 lead at the break.
Whittier goalie Ryan Brunansky held up as well as he could despite the Cardinal barrage, making 14 saves for the Poets. Stanford’s lead swelled to 16-0 just over two minutes into the third period before the Poets finally broke through with a goal from Marko Zuric at the 5:40 mark of the frame. Zuric would go on to score once more while Wedge Molthen added a goal to Whittier’s tally.
Stanford closed the contest on a 3-0 run as Conner Cleary, Chase and Adam Abdulhamid netted fourth-period goals.
Whittier – 0 0 3 0 = 3
Stanford – 8 5 4 3 = 20
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bolan 4, Chase 3, Abdulhamid 2, Bonanni 2, Churnside 2, Stapleton 2, Watkins 2, Cleary, Kimbell, Wiser
Whittier Goal Scorers: Zuric 2, Molthen
Goalie Saves: Holland 5, Platshon 5 (S), Brunansky 14 (W)