No. 4 Stanford men’s water polo extended its winning streak to four Sunday afternoon with an 11-8 win over No. 6 UC Santa Barbara at Avery Aquatic Center.
The Cardinal embarks on the first of two straight weekend trips to Southern California next week. Stanford will play three games, beginning at MPSF foe UC Irvine Friday at 7 p.m. and continuing at Chapman Saturday and Long Beach State Sunday.
Eight players scored goals for the Cardinal, which improved to 14-4 overall and 3-1 in MPSF play. Alex Bowen, BJ Churnside and Forrest Watkins each scored twice while Adam Abdulhamid, Bret Bonanni, Reid Chase, Paul Rudolph and Connor Stapleton added a goal apiece.
In goal, Drew Holland made 11 saves and the Stanford defense limited UC Santa Barbara (16-7, 2-3 MPSF) to just a 3-for-12 showing on its 6-on-5 situations. Chris Whitelegge made 10 saves for the Gauchos.
It was a six-goal second period by the Cardinal which turned the tide of Sunday’s contest. The teams played to a 2-2 stalemate in the first period, with the Cardinal pulling even with 3:23 left in the frame. Watkins opened the scoring at the 6:06 mark but the Gauchos responded with goals from Eric Van de Mortel and Derek Shoemaker in a span of 47 seconds.
The Gaucho lead last just 28 seconds, as the Cardinal drew an exclusion on UCSB and Alex Bowen powered home the equalizer.
Watkins and Nicholas Jordan traded goals within the opening 31 seconds of the second period, but minutes later Churnside would fire home 5:22 before the break to put the Cardinal ahead 3-2. The goal started a 3-0 run in which Churnside goals sandwiched a nice near-post shot from Stapleton, putting the Cardinal in front 6-3. Matt Gronow would cut the lead to two with 1:08 to go in the frame but the Cardinal would end the half sharply as Abdulhamid and Chase scored with 49 and 21 seconds remaining, respectively, giving the Cardinal an 8-4 lead at the break.
The Cardinal drew a five-meter penalty 45 seconds into the second half and Bonanni converted the ensuing penalty shot, upping the lead to five at 9-4. Santa Barbara would not quit, however, as the Gauchos would score three straight times over the next 10:48 while the Cardinal went into a scoring drought.
That dry spell would come to an end thanks to Bowen, who scored his second of the game by rising high out of the water and firing a laser past Whitelegge with 2:39 remaining. Holland and the defense would stifle the Gauchos further and with a minute left Stapleton would feed Rudolph at the far post for the goal that put it in the bag for the Cardinal.
UCSB – 2 2 2 2 = 8
Stanford – 2 6 1 2 = 11
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bowen 2, Churnside 2, Watkins 2, Abdulhamid, Bonanni, Chase, Rudolph, Stapleton
UCSB Goal Scorers: Van de Mortel 3, Cappon, Gronow, Hamilton, Jordan, Shoemaker
Goalie Saves: Holland 11 (S); Whitelegge 10 (UCSB)