Oct. 5, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford men's water polo, newly-minted as the top-ranked team in the Collegiate Water Polo Association's Varsity Top 20 Poll Wednesday, opens its home and MPSF slate Friday night when it hosts No. 8 Pepperdine (7-5, 0-1 MPSF) for a 7 p.m. contest at Avery Aquatic Center.
Stanford (7-2, 0-0 MPSF) will continue the home weekend Sunday afternoon, taking on No. 5 UC Santa Barbara at 12 noon.
Stanford enters the weekend on the heels of a perfect 4-0 outing at the SoCal Tournament last Saturday and Sunday, capturing the event title for the first time since 2002. The Cardinal defeated top-ranked USC and No. 3 California in Sunday's semifinals and title game, respectively, closing things out with a 10-9 overtime win over the Golden Bears.
The wins also earned the Cardinal a measure of revenge, as USC and California had dealt Stanford its only previous losses this season at the NorCal Invitational in mid-September.
Freshman Alex Bowen earned MPSF Mikasa Player of the Week honors for his performance in Southern California. The San Diego native scored 11 goals over Stanford's four wins including six, among them the tournament winner, in the title-game victory over California.
Redshirt sophomore Forrest Watkins continued his solid campaign with eight goals in the tournament, while seniors Peter Sefton (five) and Jacob Smith (four) netted key goals.
The Cardinal defense continued its strong play, holding USC to a season-low four goals in the 6-4 semifinal win. In the championship game, the Cardinal defense came up clutch once again, holding California scoreless over the six minutes of overtime.
Pepperdine enters Friday's contest ranked eighth in the Varsity Top 20 Poll, slipping three spots after finishing eighth at the SoCal Tournament. The Waves opened the year hot, winning six of its first seven, but have since cooled with four losses in its past five games.
Nate Castillo, Matt DeTrane and Andrew Milcovich pace the Pepperdine attack with 23, 21 and 20 goals, respectively, while in the cage top goalie Bence Valics averages 10.35 saves per game.
The meeting between the Cardinal and Waves will be their second in seven days. Stanford defeated Pepperdine, 7-6, in the second round of the SoCal Tournament last Saturday.
Fifth-ranked Santa Barbara (11-5, 0-0 MPSF) enters Sunday's contest ranked fifth in this week's Varsity Top 20 Poll. The Gauchos have won four of their past five, falling only to UCLA in the second round of the SoCal Tournament on Oct. 1.
Coached by former Stanford standout Wolf Wigo, the Gauchos are paced by the scoring of Matt Gronow, Jesse Gillespie and Chase Racich. In the cage, UCSB features the tandem of Myles Christian and Jay Lovero, who have combined for 155 saves.