Oct. 17, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. -
The fourth-ranked Stanford men's water polo team (8-3, 2-1 MPSF) heads to Berkeley Saturday for the Big Splash against No. 7 California (9-6, 0-2 MPSF). The Cardinal aims to return the Steve Heaston Trophy, presented to the game's winner every year, to The Farm. The contest, set for a 9:30 a.m. start, will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks with Jim Watson on play-by-play and former Stanford water polo standout Chris Dorst on color commentary.
The Cardinal will conclude its three-game weekend Sunday at Santa Clara, taking on No. 17 Bucknell at 8 a.m. and No. 13 Air Force at 12 p.m. as part of the Rodeo Tournament at SCU's Sullivan Aquatic Center.
About The Opposition
Since opening the season 7-0, California has dropped six of eight contests including its first two MPSF games. The Golden Bears dropped a 10-9 sudden-death decision at home to No. 3 UCLA two weeks ago in its last action.
The Golden Bears are led on offense by Collin Smith's 40 goals while Marin Balarin and Aleksa Saponjic are next on the team rankings with 26 and 24 goals, respectively. Defensively, Michael Boggan is fifth in the MPSF with a 6.98 goals-against average while making 9.02 saves per game.
Against The Golden Bears
Saturday's Big Splash will be the second second meeting of the 2012 season between Stanford and California. The Cardinal downed the Golden Bears, 9-8, in the NorCal Invitational Third-Place Game at Avery Aquatic Center on Sept. 16. Heading into Saturday's meeting, the schools have split the previous 18 matchups dating back to the start of the 2007 season. California captured the past two Big Splash contests (2010-11) after Stanford had won six in a row from 2004-09.
Last Time Out
Stanford got back in the "Win" column last weekend with a two-game sweep of its Southern California trip. The Cardinal defeated No. 2 UC Santa Barbara by a score of 9-7 Saturday then downed No. 8 Pepperdine, 11-6, to earn its first MPSF wins of the campaign.
Freshman driver Bret Bonanni
scored six goals over the two victories, earning his first MPSF/KAP 7 Player of the Week honor and raising his season total to 26. Redshirt junior two-meter Forrest Watkins
and sophomore utility Alex Bowen
each scored four times, and in the cage, redshirt junior Scott Platshon
made a combined 17 saves and allowed just 13 goals over the two matches.
In The National Rankings
Stanford moved up a spot to No. 4 in this week's CWPA Varsity Top 20 Poll after last weekend's victories at No. 2 UC Santa Barbara and No. 8 Pepperdine.
Bonanni Named MPSF/KAP 7 Player Of The Week
Freshman Bret Bonanni captured the first MPSF honor of the 2012 season for the Cardinal this past Monday, being named MPSF/KAP 7 Player of the Week. Bonanni netted a pair of hat tricks, going for a total of six goals in last weekend's road wins at No. 2 UC Santa Barbara and No. 8 Pepperdine. The Huntington Beach native upped his scoring haul to 26 for the season, putting him second on the team behind Alex Bowen's 28.
Last weekend's sweep of UC Santa Barbara and Pepperdine was an encouraging step in the right direction for the Cardinal, which had split its previous four games leading up. Coming off of a 9-6 home loss to No. 1 USC, Stanford was able to rebound and avenge one of its losses this season by jumping all over the Gauchos Saturday, scoring seven first-half goals. Saturday's win gives Stanford two wins in three meetings this season with UC Santa Barbara, and combined with its previous win over California puts the Cardinal in good position amongst contenders for one of two spots at the National Collegiate Championship in December.
Seniors Add Key Scores
Three of Stanford's redshirt seniors, Alex Avery, Andrew LaForge and Travis Noll, got their names on the scoresheets last weekend, furthering their leadership roles on a young Cardinal squad. Avery netted his goal Saturday just 11 seconds before the end of the first period against UCSB, capping a four-goal opening frame for Stanford. LaForge and Noll, meanwhile, added their goals at an important time in the fourth period Sunday, scoring Stanford's final two goals to squelch Pepperdine's comeback hopes in the 11-6 win.
Platshon Stepping Up
Goalie Scott Platshon had himself a good weekend in Southern California as well, anchoring Stanford's successful defensive efforts in the wins in Santa Barbara and Malibu. Saturday against the Gauchos, Platshon made 10 saves and held UCSB scoreless in the first period, allowing the Cardinal to jump out to a 4-0 lead. He would give up just two goals in the opening half as Stanford took control of the contest with a 7-2 advantage at the half.
Sunday, Platshon made seven saves in the win at Pepperdine. He limited the Waves to just one goal in both the second and third periods, allowing the Cardinal to blow open a 2-2 tie after the first period into a 9-4 lead by the end of the third.
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 fifth in the conference with 2.55 goals per game while Bret Bonanni (2.36) is 10th and Forrest Watkins (1.64) 20th.
In goal Scott Platshon's 7.78 goals-against average is seventh in the MPSF. As a team, Stanford is eighth with 10.45 goals per game and fifth in defense with only 7.18 goals allowed per game.