Nov. 15, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. -
The game came down to the final second, but No. 3 Stanford's final shot at equalizing was blocked and the Cardinal suffered a tough 6-5 defeat at the hands of top-ranked USC Saturday afternoon in front of a frenzied crowd at a jam-packed Avery Aquatic Center. The loss drops the Cardinal to 21-4 overall and 5-2 in MPSF play.
Although USC (23-0, 8-0 MPSF) clinched the MPSF regular-season title and the MPSF Tournament's top seed with the win, the Cardinal still remains in the hunt for the second seed, and will complete the regular season next Saturday against California in Berkeley.
Janson Wigo led the Cardinal Saturday with three goals, while Sage Wright accounted for the other two goals scored. On the other end of the tank, Jimmie Sandman made six saves as the Stanford defense held USC, the MPSF's highest-scoring offense, to just six goals.
Stanford would surge ahead early on in Saturday's contest, as Wigo netted the first two goals of the game. The first came on the power play, and on the second he doubled the Cardinal lead by burying a five-meter penalty shot soon thereafter.
USC finally got itself on the board in the opening period as Matt Sagehorn netted what would be his lone goal of the game, halving the Cardinal lead. But Stanford would fire right back, recouping the lost goal as Wright cashed in to give the Cardinal a 3-1 lead after the first eight minutes of play.
Wigo would complete his hat trick in the second period, but USC would add two goals of its own, from Shea Buckner and Peter Kurzeka, to cut the Stanford advantage to 4-3 by halftime.
Justin Rappel would add the only goal of the third period from either team, allowing the Trojans to knot things up at 4-4 heading into the final period of play.
The tension-filled final period saw both teams battling to a stalemate for the first five-plus minutes, as neither Stanford or USC could reel in that go-ahead goal. But the Trojans would eventually break the tie, as Rappel converted for the second time, his goal coming with 2:43 remaining in the contest to give USC its first lead of the afternoon.
The Trojans would put the Cardinal into a two-goal hole just over a minute later, as Kurzeka notched his second score of the contest with 1:28 left to play. Yet Stanford would answer right away, with Wright finding the net for his second goal, cutting the deficit to one at 6-5 with 1:12 showing on the clock.
Stanford's defense rose to the challenge in the next possession, just as it had all afternoon, stifling the USC attack and earning the offense one final chance to equalize and send the game into overtime. The Cardinal's chances increased when an exclusion was called against the Trojans, giving Stanford a 6-on-5 advantage in the final seconds. But the Cardinal would see its last shot get blocked by Trojan goalkeeper Joel Dennerley, who made 12 saves on the day, and USC would run out the last second remaining to escape with the victory.
USC - 1 2 1 2 = 6
Stanford - 3 1 0 1 = 5
Stanford Goal Scorers: J. Wigo 3, Sa. Wright 2
USC Goal Scorers: Rappel 2, Kurzecka 2, Buckner, Sagehorn
Goalie Saves: Sandman 6 (S); Dennerley 12 (USC)