Sept. 15, 2012
2012 NorCal Invitational Central
STANFORD, Calif. - Fourth-ranked Stanford men's water polo opened its 2012 campaign Saturday with wins over No. 14 Santa Clara and No. 5 UC Santa Barbara at Avery Aquatic Center to advance to the NorCal Invitational semifinals.
The Cardinal scored 27 goals over the two victories, 19 of them coming in a 19-1 rout of Santa Clara in the morning. Stanford would outlast UC Santa Barbara, 8-7, in the evening as freshman Bret Bonanni rifled home the winner with 1:55 remaining.
The game-winner capped a strong debut for the rookie from Huntington Beach, as Bonanni scored seven times including thrice in the victory over the Gauchos.
Stanford's underclassmen came up big Saturday, as sophomore Alex Bowen scored six times and the Cardinal's defense, anchored by the goalkeeping trio of redshirt juniors Scott Platshon and Hunter Ploch along with redshirt freshman Clayton Evans, allowed just eight goals and made 17 saves.
The Cardinal will take on No. 1 USC in Sunday's semifinal round at 10:50 a.m. at Avery Aquatic Center. The winner will advance to the championship game at 6:15 p.m.
Saturday night's second game gave the Cardinal the test it needed to get into the swing of the new season. UC Santa Barbara refused to be put away, fighting back from four separate two-goal deficits to tie the game at 7-7 late in the third period. The tension built over the first five minutes of the fourth period as neither offense could break the draw but Stanford's defense showed its maturity by continually holding strong against the upset-minded Gauchos.
Bowen, Conner Cleary
, Andrew LaForge
, BJ Churnside
and Forrest Watkins
were just a few among the Cardinal roster who stood their ground in the field amid the tension, working with Platshon, who made eight saves, in net keeping the Cardinal afloat until Bonanni's strike.
Moments before the deciding goal, it didn't appear that the Cardinal would get anything rolling on its possession, but the highly-touted Mater Dei graduate went for broke from about seven meters out and fired a laser through UCSB's field defense and past goalie Miles Christian, who had made nine saves in the contest.
The Cardinal defense pressed for the final 1:55, preventing the Gauchos from mounting any semblance of an attack. On its final chance, UCSB overthrew multiple passes and had its last gasp shot fly well over the goal.
Along with Bonanni's hat trick and two goals from Bowen, Watkins added a pair of his own and Nick Hoversten netted a goal.
Earlier in the day the Cardinal cruised past South Bay neighbor Santa Clara, 19-1. Bonanni and Bowen each scored four goals while Churnside, Cleary, Michael Carter and Ian Gamble each scored twice and Watkins, Ryan Brown and Travis Noll added single goals to the effort.
The Cardinal led the Broncos 8-0 at halftime and swelled its advantage to double-digits in the third period before Santa Clara finally got on the board with Jimmy Moore's five-meter penalty. A four-goal fourth period capped the big win to start the campaign.
Evans started the game in goal, making four saves before giving way to Ploch at the half. Ploch would stop five shots over the final two periods.
Santa Clara - 0 0 1 0 = 1
Stanford - 3 5 7 4 = 19
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bonanni 4, Bowen 4, Carter 2, Churnside 2, Cleary 2, Gamble 2, Brown, Noll, Watkins
Santa Clara Goal Scorers: Moore
Goalie Saves: Evans 4, Ploch 5 (S); Nash 7, Pritchett 6 (SCU)
UCSB - 1 3 3 0 = 7
Stanford - 2 2 3 1 = 8
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bonanni 3, Bowen 2, Watkins 2, Hoversten
UCSB Goal Scorers: B. Shoemaker 3, Zhang 2, B. Miller, Tomasello
Goalie Saves: Platshon 8 (S); Christian 9 (UCSB)