Sept. 16, 2012
2012 NorCal Invitational Central
STANFORD, Calif. - No. 4 Stanford men's water polo bounced back from a tough overtime loss to No. 1 USC in the NorCal Invitational semifinals Sunday morning, defeating No. 3 California, 9-8, in the evening to claim third place at the tournament.
The Cardinal (3-1) returns to action in two weeks, traveling to Santa Barbara for the SoCal Tournament which is set for Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29-30. Details on the draw and Stanford's opening opponents should be revealed in the coming week.
Sophomore Alex Bowen (five goals), freshmen BJ Churnside (four) and Bret Bonanni (three), redshirt sophomore Nick Hoversten (three) and redshirt junior Forrest Watkins (two) accounted for all but one of Stanford's goals Sunday as the Cardinal got a chance to gauge where it stands against two of the top teams in the nation in USC and California. Redshirt junior Ian Gamble also netted a goal in the morning against the Trojans.
Facing the Golden Bears for third place just hours after a heart-breaking 10-9 overtime loss to USC in the semifinals, Stanford showed its fire by blitzing California for five goals over the opening 6:15 of the game. Hoversten got it started just 39 seconds into the game and Bonanni followed up with a five-meter penalty conversion 35 seconds later.
Bowen would find the net seconds after a 6-on-5 expired at the 3:45 mark and 1:31 later Churnside netted his first of the game on the power play. After the Cardinal drew yet another penalty shot 28 seconds later, Churnside stepped up to cash in on his second goal of the contest and put the Cardinal in front by five over their stunned rivals.
The lead got as high as 7-1 with 3:25 to go before the half but California started to show signs of life, scoring twice before the buzzer to go into the break down 8-3. Three straight goals over the first 12:41 of the second half got the Golden Bears within two at 8-6 before Bonanni scored on the 6-on-5 with 2:48 to play, giving Stanford some breathing room.
That goal would prove fortuitous as California's late charge resulted in two more goals, the last coming with 1:28 to play, forcing the Cardinal defense to tighten up and protect the lead. The defense, anchored by goalie Scott Platshon, who made 15 saves Sunday, and two-meter players Watkins, Conner Cleary and Andrew LaForge, held together for the final 1:28, with Gamble making the key steal on California's final possession.
The morning's semifinal featured eight ties as the Cardinal and Trojans slugged it out in Avery Stadium. The Cardinal would manage a two-goal lead at 5-3 with 5:36 to go in the third period before USC scored three successive goals to go up 6-5 with 6;13 to play in regulation.
Starting with Bowen's equalizer with 4:55 to play that made it 6-6, the Cardinal would fall behind by a goal only to dramatically tie it back up four times over the game's final five minutes. Hoversten and Bonanni would get the Cardinal back on even footing at 7-7 and 8-8, respectively, before another underclassman provided the spark in the dying seconds of regulation.
Trailing 9-8, the Cardinal drew a kickout with four seconds to play and Churnside alertly grabbed the ball outside of four meters and fired home past USC goalie Ely Bonilla to tie it up at 9-9 with three seconds on the clock.
Unfortunately for the Cardinal, it would not be able to find the back of the net over the two overtime sessions, as USC's Jeremy Davie netted the eventual game-winner at 2:41 of the second stanza.
USC - 2 1 1 5 0-1 = 10
Stanford - 2 2 1 4 0-0 = 9
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bowen 2, Churnside 2, Hoversten 2, Bonanni, Gamble, Watkins
USC Goal Scorers: Burton 3, Davie 2, Genidounias, Lucas, Rapsey, Rosenthal, Vavic
Goalie Saves: Platshon 9 (S); Bonilla 12 (USC)
California - 1 2 1 4 = 8
Stanford - 5 3 0 1 = 9
Stanford Goal Scorers: Bowen 3, Bonanni 2, Churnside 2, Hoversten, Watkins
California Goal Scorers: Smith 4, Cox, Hamilton, Ivanovic, Russell
Goalie Saves: Platshon 6 (S); Boggan 9 (C)