Oct. 3, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. -
The Stanford men's water polo team (6-2, 0-0 MPSF), ranked fifth in the nation, opens up its 2012 MPSF slate against top-ranked USC (14-0, 1-0 MPSF) Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at Avery Aquatic Center. The contest will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks, the first for the network at Avery, with Jim Watson on play-by-play and Greg Mescall on color commentary.
Parking Advisory For This Weekend
With multiple sports and Homecoming Weekend events going on at Stanford this Saturday Stanford Athletics would like to advise fans to arrive to campus early and recommends parking in the garage underneath the Knight Business Center on Campus Drive directly across the street from Maples Pavilion.
About The Opposition
Four-time defending NCAA champion USC (14-0) enters Saturday's contest on a 16-game winning streak, dating back to last year's National Collegiate Championship.
The Trojans are led on offense by Nikola Vavic (43 goals) and Kostas Genidounias (28) while eight additional players have scored at least 10 goals. The goalie tandem of Ely Bonilla (9.5 saves per game, 4.4 goals-against average) and James Clark (9.8 saves per game, 4.5 goals-against average) anchors a USC defense that leads the MPSF with just 4.50 goals allowed a game.
Last Time Out
Stanford went 3-1 and finished fifth at the SoCal Tournament in Santa Barbara last weekend. Following a 13-6 win over Princeton to start the weekend, the Cardinal was upset by No. 6 UC Santa Barbara, 12-9, in the second round. Stanford would rebound Sunday, defeating Pepperdine, 13-8 and Pacific, 9-5, to claim fifth place.
In The National Rankings
Stanford dropped to No. 5 in this week's Varsity Top 20 Poll after last weekend's fifth-place finish at the SoCal Tournament.
Against The Trojans
Bowen Picks Up Where He Left Off
Stanford leads the all-time series against USC, 56-54, heading into Saturday's meeting. The teams have already met once this season, with USC coming away with a 10-9 overtime decision in the semifinal round of the NorCal Invitational at Avery back on Sept. 16. Cardinal's last win over the Trojans came in the SoCal Tournament semifinal round on Oct. 2, 2011, scoring a 6-4 victory. Stanford also captured the last MPSF regular-season meeting held at Avery Aquatic Center between the schools, defeating the Trojans 5-3 on Oct. 9, 2010.
Through the first eight games this season sophomore utility Alex Bowen
has continued the scoring binge that began in 2011, netting a team-leading 22 goals so far. Last year Bowen was named MPSF Newcomer of the Year and the ACWPC All-America First Team after leading the Cardinal with 53 goals as a freshman. In four career games against USC, Bowen has scored six times, including a hat trick against the Trojans in an 8-4 loss last Oct. 29 in Los Angeles.
Senior Leadership Steadies The Cardinal
Stanford is boosted by a strong leadership corps in the field which includes redshirt juniors two-meter Forrest Watkins and driver Ian Gamble (six goals) as well as redshirt seniors Alex Avery, Ryan Brown, Andrew LaForge and Travis Noll. Watkins is third on the team with 13 goals while Avery (four), Brown (one), LaForge (one) and Noll (one) have combined to score seven. Watkins and LaForge also play key roles with the Cardinal defense, playing the two-meter position in front of the goal, while Gamble and the three other seniors provide help on the perimeter.
Adding more firepower to the Cardinal offense in 2012 is a pair of freshman drivers in Bret Bonanni and BJ Churnside. Through the first eight games of their rookie campaign, Bonanni is second on the team with 19 goals while Churnside has found the back of the cage six times, making for 25 total goals, or 28.1 percent of Stanford's scoring output.
A member of the U.S. Junior National Team in 2011, Bonanni has drawn comparisons to former Cardinal great Tony Azevedo for his scoring skill and talent on the perimeter, having scored 435 career goals at Mater Dei and being named CIF Southern Section Division I Player of the Year in both 2010 and 2011. Churnside has also seen international action, spending time with the U.S. Youth National Team in 2011. As a prep he was thrice named to the CIF Southern Section Division II First Team (2009-11) while scoring 424 career goals at Villa Park High School.
Stanford's Goalie Trio
Stanford has featured three goalies in the cage this season, with redshirt sophomore Scott Platshon handling No. 1 duties. Playing in six of the team's eight games so far this season, Platshon is averaging 8.16 saves per game while allowing 8.00 goals a game. Redshirt freshman Clayton Evans (4.00 saves per game, 1.00 goals-against average) and Hunter Ploch (5.50 saves per game, 6.00 goals-against average) have each seen action in two halves this season.
Among The MPSF Leaders
Stanford men's water polo is represented among the top-20 scorers in the MPSF rankings through Oct. 2. Alex Bowen is sixth in the conference with 2.75 goals per game while Bret Bonanni (2.38) is 10th and Forrest Watkins (1.63) 20th.
In goal Scott Platshon's 8.00 goals-against average is ninth in the MPSF. As a team, Stanford is seventh with 11.13 goals per game and fourth in defense with only 7.13 goals allowed per game.