For the third straight game the defense of the fourth-ranked Stanford men’s water polo team was in peak form, smothering No. 9 Pepperdine from the start in an 11-3 win at Avery Aquatic Center.
Stanford (13-4, 2-1 MPSF) returns to action next Sunday, Nov. 3, ending its three-game homestand at Avery against No. 6 UC Santa Barbara at 12 p.m. Pepperdine falls to 8-9 overall and 0-3 in MPSF action with the loss.
Freshman goalie Drew Holland made eight saves and the Cardinal defense held the Waves to a 1-for-10 showing on its 6-on-5 advantages in the contest. Pepperdine was held scoreless in the first half and only managed its first goal 56 seconds into the third period, a total scoreless drought of 16:56.
On the offensive end the Cardinal was led by Alex Bowen’s hat trick, while the quartet of Bret Bonanni, BJ Churnside, Jackson Kimbell and Paul Rudolph each scored twice.
Both goalies were on point as Sunday’s contest opened, with Holland and Pepperdine’s Bence Valics each making saves in their respective ends. It wasn’t until the 3:41 mark that Bowen fired home from the right wing just as a Cardinal 6-on-5 was ending to break the ice. Just under two minutes later the Cardinal took advantage of a 2-on-1 in transition with Kimbell ending up alone against Valics, then finding the goal after a pump fake. Bowen would then score his second 23 seconds into the second period to make the lead 3-0 for Stanford.
Two-meter man Conner Cleary would play a big role in helping the Cardinal break the game open in the second period. The 6-6 Goleta native gave the Waves fits in the hole and in the second period alone drew three exclusions, from which the Cardinal would score twice. The first of those exclusions came at the 6:55 mark, as Cleary forced Pepperdine’s Wesley Sherburne out, then 13 seconds later Bonanni rifled home a shot from the left wing.
With 4:09 to go before halftime, Cleary again proved too much to handle for the Wave defenders, drawing an exclusion against Marko Madaras. On the ensuing power play the Cardinal would set up Bonanni on the left wing again, but this time he would drop forward to a wide-open Kimbell who finished to make it a 5-0 game.
Pepperdine would get a pair of goals from Danny White within the opening 1:45 of the second half, cutting the Cardinal lead to three at 5-2. Stanford, however, would snuff out Pepperdine’s momentum thanks to Rudolph’s goal with 4:01 to go in the period. Churnside would add his first just 45 seconds later and the Cardinal was back in full control at 7-2.
Although the Waves would get a goal from Luke Hewko 56 seconds before the end of the period, the Stanford defense would dig in to hold Pepperdine scoreless over the final 8:56. The Cardinal would also get goals from Churnside, Bonanni, Rudolph and Bowen in the final frame to put the game away.
Pepperdine – 0 0 3 0 = 3
Stanford – 2 3 2 4 = 11
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bowen 3, Bonanni 2, Churnside 2, Kimbell 2, Rudolph 2
Pepperdine Goal Scorers: White 2, Hewko
Goalie Saves: Holland 8 (S); Valics 7 (P)