Fourth-ranked Stanford men's water polo faces a critical matchup Saturday afternoon as it visits No. 2 USC for a 2 p.m. matchup in Los Angeles.
The Cardinal (17-4, 5-1 MPSF) brings a seven-game winning streak into the weekend, and with two games remaining in the regular season can solidify a top-three seed at Nov. 29-Dec. 1's MPSF Tournament with a win Saturday. Stanford and USC have met once already this season, with the Trojans capturing an 8-7 overtime win over the Cardinal at the NorCal Invitational semifinals back on Sept. 22 in Berkeley.
Stanford is led by the scoring of sophomore driver Bret Bonanni, who paces the team with 71 goals and leads the MPSF with 3.38 goals per game. Junior utility Alex Bowen is also over the half-century mark with 53 goals while BJ Churnside (30 goals), Jackson Kimbell (24) and Forrest Watkins (24) are each over the 20-goal mark.
Freshman Drew Holland has been big in the cage for the Cardinal, allowing just 31 goals in his five games during the team's winning streak. For the year Holland ranks third in the MPSF with a 7.06 goals-against average.
Waiting for the Cardinal in Los Angeles is No. 2 USC (22-2, 4-1 MPSF), which suffered its first conference loss two weeks ago at Pacific. The Trojans bounced back from the loss with wins at California and against Pepperdine last weekend. USC is led by Kosta Genidounias (65 goals, 2.71 goals per game) and Nikola Vavic (61 goals, 2.54 goals per game) on offense while goalie James Clark is second in the MPSF with a 5.80 goals-against average. Overall, USC leads the conference in total offense (16.38 goals per game) and is second in total defense (5.58 goals allowed per game).
Saturday's contest is also Stanford's penultimate game of the regular season. The Cardinal return to Avery Aquatic Center for the finale next Saturday, Nov. 23, hosting The Big Splash against California at a time still to be determined.