NorCal Invitational Central
STANFORD, Calif. - It was a big day for offense at the NorCal Invitational Saturday as the second-ranked Stanford men's water polo team outscored a pair of opponents by a combined 31-12 at Avery Aquatic Center. The Cardinal opened the day with a 16-3 victory over No. 18 UC Davis before posting a 15-9 win over No. 7 Pepperdine to clinch a spot in Sunday's semifinal round.
Stanford (6-0) will open Sunday's action against No. 3 California at 12:30 p.m. at Avery Pool. A victory would send the Cardinal to the championship game at 5:50 p.m. while a loss would earn Stanford a spot in the third-place game at 4:30 p.m.
Senior Drac Wigo led all Stanford players with 11 goals on the day, including an eye-popping eight goals in the afternoon victory over Pepperdine. Janson Wigo and Jeffrey Schwimer added four goals apiece while Ryan Brown and Paul Rudolph each tallied a trio of goals.
Goalie Jimmie Sandman stopped 16 shots over the two contests while freshman Scott Platshon also saw a quarter of action against UC Davis.
In the tournament opener, Drac Wigo wasted little time making his presence felt, scoring three of Stanford's four first-period goals. Wigo opened things up with a goal just 1:23 into the game, and after Schwimer netted one from two meters and the Aggies halved the lead, he netted scores three minutes apart to give the Cardinal a 4-1 advantage.
From there the Cardinal lead only got bigger, as Wigo's two goals started a 7-0 run that stretched to the 5:12 mark of the third period. Goals from Schwimer, Janson Wigo and Travis Noll made it 7-1 at halftime, while Janson and Schwimer again found the net before UC Davis' Luke Collins converted a five-meter penalty shot to make it 9-2.
Schwimer, both Wigos, and redshirt freshman Ryan Brown each posted hat tricks against UC Davis, while Noll, Alex Pulido and redshirt freshman Alex Avery also tallied goals.
Sandman stopped five shots over three periods of action, with Platshon playing the final eight minutes.
After a few hours off, the Cardinal returned to the pool to take on No. 7 Pepperdine. The Waves opened the scoring 2:05 into the game, as Clayton Snyder converted. But the Cardinal would answer with three straight goals from Schwimer, Andrew LaForge and Drac Wigo to take a 3-1 lead.
Although the Cardinal would never trail again in the contest from that point, the Waves stuck around until the late third period, managing to equalize twice and staying only a goal or two behind Stanford.
Two straight goals from Pepperdine's J.P. MacDonnell made it 3-3 before Drac Wigo scored with 1:11 on the clock to make it 4-3, which was how the first period ended.
The teams continued trading goals in the second period, with Pepperdine equalizing just over a minute into the frame, before Stanford retook the lead with 6:21 to go before halftime. From there until late in the third period, the Cardinal could never get a lead of more than two goals on the Waves, who kept creeping closer and closer into Stanford's advantage.
With the Cardinal ahead 10-8 with 6;11 to play in the third period, the teams stalemated for nearly four minutes before Drac Wigo scored twice, with 2:14 and then 0:22 remaining to get Stanford some key breathing room at 12-8. In the fourth period, the defense fully found its rhythm, limiting the Waves to just one goal while Sandman made three saves. The offense, meanwhile, scored twice in the final minutes to slam the door on any comeback hopes Pepperdine may have been harboring and clinch the win.
Drac Wigo's eight goals were a key part of the win, especially as the senior driver scored three of those goals in the third period where the Cardinal turned a tenuous 8-7 halftime lead into a 12-8 cushion.
UC Davis - 1 0 1 1 - 3
Stanford - 4 3 3 6 - 16
Stanford Goal Scorers: Brown 3, Schwimer 3, D. Wigo 3, J. Wigo 3, Avery, Noll, Pulido, Rudolph
UC Davis Goal Scorers: Collins 2, Driscoll
Goalie Saves: Sandman 5, Platshon 0 (S); Peat 13 (UCD)
Pepperdine - 3 4 1 1 - 9
Stanford - 4 4 4 3 - 15
Stanford Goal Scorers: D. Wigo 8, Rudolph 2, LaForge, Schwimer, Sefton, J. Smith, J. Wigo
Pepperdine Goal Scorers: MacDonnell 3, Snyder 2, Auer, Hamby, Perry, Watson
Goalie Saves: Sandman 11 (S); McClain 6 (P)