Aug. 6, 1997
1997 Season Outlook
Another collegiate water polo season is about to begin and Stanford University is again a prominent contender to win the NCAA title.
The Cardinal is no stranger to success. Stanford is one of the most successful collegiate water polo team in the country with eight national championships and 18 top four finishes in the last 22 years. This year the recipe for success is there again.
Although the Cardinal lost All-American and #2 all-time scorer Brian Wallin to graduation, #2 scorer Daniel Lehocky, and has only one senior on the 23-man roster, Cardinal head coach Dante Dettamanti is confident the team will be ready to a make a run at the NCAA title.
"Our defense will be strong, we have good athletes with size, speed and leg strength, and we have enough experience to get the job done," said Dettamanti, who has coached seven NCAA championship teams at Stanford. "Last year, we were ranked #2 almost the entire season with a lot of young players. This year we're a team loaded with juniors, now a year older with experience."
Five starters return include two players who gained All-America recognition last year. Chris Aguilera, a junior, is considered the premier goalie in the country, according to Dettamanti. Aguilera chalked up 221 saves in his first season as a starter in 1996. For his efforts, Aguilera gained third team All-America honors. Crosby Grant is the team's top returning scorer (27 points) and gained All-America honorable mention status. According to Dettamanti, Grant has developed into of the top center-forwards in the country. David Hay will share the center-forward position with Grant. A strong arm makes Hay a scoring threat. Brian Heifferon, who chalked up 24 points last year, is the team's best all-around player, according to the Stanford coaching staff. Although only a sophomore, Heifferon has gained a lot of experience playing internationally as a member of the United States Junior national team.
Other top returnees include Arthuro Rodelo (18 points in 1996), Nathan Osborn (17 points), Jeremiah Robison, Michael Lipinski, Sean Joy and Jonathan Skaalen.
Layne Beaubien returns after redshirting last year. Defense is Beaubien's forte. The two-meter defender is considered one of the top defenders in the country, according to Dettamanti. Also back is Andy Walburger, who returns from a two-year Mormon mission.
Getting to the NCAA Final Four is always a key issue for teams in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Although the best teams in the country play in the MPSF, only two teams from the league gain entrance to the national tournament, this year to be played for the first time in Ft. Lauderdale (headquarters of the national swimming hall of fame).
"Our league tournament is much tougher than the NCAA tournament," said Dettamanti, who is one of only three coaches in NCAA water polo history to reach the 500 victory pleteau. Dettamanti has 568 career wins, 472 of them at Stanford.
"Winning the league is our first goal, which automatically qualifies us for the national tournament. We came close last year. We want to be there this year."
1996 Season Recap
Stanford enjoyed another outstanding season, chalking up an 18-7 record and a #3 national ranking against the toughest competition in collegiate water polo. The Cardnal defeated every team in the top ten at least once. In fact, seventeen of the team's wins came against teams ranked in the top ten.The Cardinal captured the regular season title in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with a 7-1 record and second place in the MPSF tournament. After losing two of first three games to start the season, the Cardinal rallied for a season-high nine straight victories. However, a trip to the NCAA Final Four eluded the Cardinal in 1996. A strong finish at the end of the regular season was not enough to get Stanford into the national tournament. Only two teams from the MPSF advance to the national tournament. Stsanford was edged out UCLA and USC. However, the young Cardinal team showed steady improvement over the course of the season, and the experience will pay dividends in the 1997 campaign.
Several Stanford players were accorded post-season honors. Brian Wallin was selected an All-American for a third straight season, and was named co-Player of the Year in the MPSF. Wallin was among the nation's leaders in scoring with 69 points. Wallin finished his Cardinal career with 217 points, #2 all-time at Stanford. Daniel Lehoczky, who tallied 37 points, was named a second team All-American and a third team all-conference selection. Chris Aguilera, who chalked up 221 saves in goal, was named a third team All-American, and a second team all-league choice. Crosby Grant, who was the team's third leading scorer with 27 points, was an honorable mention All-American and All-MPSF selection.
Stanford head coach Dante Dettamanti recruited another outstanding group of freshmen. The newcomers total ten players, including two goalies, four drivers, three defenders and one holeman.
"This class fills all of our future needs except for a left-handed driver," said Dettamanti.
The two goalies are Arik Goodman and Pasi Dutton. Goodman, a 6-foot-4, 175-pounder gained first team All-America honors at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, Ca. Goodman, a member of the United States Junior National team, was the Central Coast Central Player of the Year during his senior season. Dutton, from Porterville High School in Springville, Ca, gained first team all-league honors for two seasons and first team all-CIF. Dutton, who is 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, can also play the field positions depending on the team's needs.
The four drivers are Sean McEachern, Colin Shaughnessy, Todd Snider and Blake Mobley. McEachern was a first team CIF and all-league performer for the CIF champion Long Beach Wilson team. McEachern was also team captain. Shaughnessy, who is 6-foot-2, 185-pounds, was a three-time Junior Olympic All-American, a member of the USA national youth team, first team all-CIF, and a two-time all-league selection. Shaughnessy graduated from San Clemente High School. Snider, who is 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, is a member of the U.S. junior national team, and first team all-CIF and all-league selection from Tokay High School in Lodi, Ca. Mobley played for Camplindo High School where he was a first team North Coast section all-CIF player.
The three defenders are Brady Beaubien, Kendall Benson, and Arik Giokaris. Brady, brother of Layne Beaubien, was a first team All-American and CIF Player of the Year for Coronado High School in the San Diego area. Beaubien is 6-foot-2, 185-pounds. Benson, who is 6-foot-3, 190-pounds, played for El Dorado High School in Placentia, Ca, where his team won the CIF title. An Empire League MVP in 1996, Benson was the CIF Division II Player of the Year. Giokaris, from California High School in Whittier, Ca, was a first team and all-league selection.
Another key addition is Mark Amott from Jesuit High School in Sacramento. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound holeman is a member of the USA junior national team and USA national youth team. Amott was a first team All-America and first team all-CIF for two years.