Nov. 16, 2007
STANFORD, Calif. -
It would be an understatement to say that big things are taking place Friday night at Avery Stadium. Not only will the Big Splash between arch-rivals No. 4 Stanford (15-6, 4-3 MPSF) and No. 1 California (24-2, 7-0 MPSF) get started a 7 p.m., but the Cardinal will also be honoring five seniors playing their final regular-season contest at home.
Friday's finale will see seniors Michael Bury, Peter Finlayson, Ryan Fortune, Sandy Hohener, and Forrest Schwartz play their final regular-season home contests. There remains a chance that, should Stanford qualify for the NCAA Championships to be held at Avery Stadium from Dec. 1-2, this quintet will extend its career in the home pool.
The Cardinal will head into Friday's contest not only looking to knock off the top-ranked Golden Bears, but also to gain momentum heading into next week's MPSF Tournament. The Big Splash takes on added meaning for Stanford's postseason hopes, as the its eventual seed in the MPSF Tournament, which after this weekend could be as high as No. 3 and as low as No. 6, will be dependent not only on Friday's result but various MPSF results around the state as well. Stanford, currently 4-3 in the MPSF, sits in a tie for fourth place with UC Irvine, a half-game behind UCLA, and one game ahead of sixth-place UC Santa Barbara.
If the first meeting between the two schools was any indication, then Friday's Big Splash should be a tight, emotional affair. The Cardinal dealt the Golden Bears its second of just two losses on the year, capturing a 10-9 sudden-death victory as Fortune found the cage for the winner. The contest also saw Stanford overcome a 6-4 deficit with four goals in the final period of regulation.
The Cardinal are led by the all-around offense of Sage Wright
(31 goals), Will Hindle-Katel
(29 goals), and the Wigo brothers, Janson and Drac (27 goals apiece). Andrew Drake
, with 24 goals, is another Cardinal player over the 20-goal mark.
In the cage, Hohener has routinely come up big this season when it matters, holding place among the MPSF leaders with a goals-against average of 6.65 and a mark of 9.45 saves per game.
California, meanwhile, are paced by Michael Sharf's 80 goals on the year, with Jeff Tyrrell adding 42. In the cage, Mark Sheredy is averaging 8.67 saves a game while allowing just 6.66 goals per contest.