Saturday, Nov. 21 - Stanford, Calif.
- vs. -
No. 2 California (20-4, 6-1 MPSF) - 2 p.m.
STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 3 Stanford men's water polo team (19-2, 6-1 MPSF) is back in Northern California to close the 2009 regular season as it hosts the No. 2 California Golden Bears (20-4, 6-1 MPSF) in The Big Splash Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Avery Aquatic Center.
About The Opposition
California enters Saturday's Big Splash boasting a 20-4 overall mark, a 6-1 record in MPSF play as well as a nine-game winning streak. The last time the Golden Bears tasted defeat was back on Oct. 11, dropping a 7-6 decision to USC in the UCI Invitational championship game.
In the pool, the Golden Bears are paced on the offensive end by the play of a 40-goal scorer, Ivan Rackov (48 goals), and a pair of 30-goal scorers in Spencer Warden (37 goals) and Zach White (31 goals). In the cage, goalie Wil Toppen averages 7.69 saves per game while allowing 6.25 goals per game.
Last Time Out
The Cardinal traveled to Los Angeles over the past weekend, visiting No. 1 USC in a much-anticipated first meeting of the 2009 season between the two schools.
Stanford and USC did not disappoint, as the Cardinal, despite playing from behind nearly the entire way, rallied from a two-goal deficit to take its first lead at 10-9 with four minutes to play. The Trojans would battle back to take a 12-11 lead with 10 seconds to play, but the Cardinal would equalize to send things to overtime.
There, the USC defense would take over, holding the Cardinal scoreless over both frames while getting the deciding goal in the first session.
Stanford In The National Rankings
Despite last Saturday's 13-12 overtime loss at No. 1 USC, Stanford remained at No. 3 in the Varsity Top 20 Poll for the sixth straight week.
The Rookie Steps Up
Freshman Paul Rudolph, in his first contest against the No. 1 team in the nation, made a great showing last Saturday, sharing the team lead with four goals in the contest. On the year, Rudolph has scored a total of 25 goals and is one of seven Cardinal players to have scored at least 20 goals in 2009.
The Wigo Show
Senior brothers Drac and Janson Wigo proved once again why they are one of the nation's top 1-2 scoring tandems, combining for six goals in Saturday's game at USC. Janson shared the team lead with four goals in the game while Drac scored a pair. On the year, the brothers have combined for 91 of Stanford's 262 goals.
Another Young Guy Making It Happen
Another underclassman who is getting his first taste of collegiate water polo this season is redshirt freshman Travis Noll, who has scored 27 goals so far in 2009. Noll added a goal in Saturday's loss at USC and has been a key addition to the Cardinal offense this season, posting four hat tricks.
This Isn't The First Go-Round
Saturday's Big Splash will be the third time that the Cardinal and Golden Bears have clashed this season, with the teams splitting the first two meetings. Stanford came out on top in the first meeting, shooting to an 8-4 lead late then holding on for the 8-7 victory in the NorCal Invitational semifinals back on Sept. 19.
California would have its revenge the next time around, as the teams met in the semifinals of the UCI Invitational. There, the Golden Bears would put a stop to Stanford's season-opening 11-game winning streak with a 10-8 win.
MPSF Tournament Implications
USC's victory over Stanford last Saturday clinched the MPSF regular-season title and MPSF Tournament No. 1 seed for USC, dropping Stanford to 6-1 in conference play. At this Saturday's game against California, which is also 6-1 in the MPSF, the victor will lay claim to the No. 2 seed while the loser gets the No. 3 seed.
Among The MPSF Leaders
Drac Wigo leads the MPSF with 2.83 goals per game through the action of Nov. 16, while brother Janson is fourth with 2.24 goals per game. Jacob Smith is tied for 17th with 1.52 goals per game, while Travis Noll is 24th with 1.29 goals per game.
On the goalkeeping side, Jimmie Sandman's 8.71 saves per game is third in the MPSF while his 5.24 goals-against average is fifth.
As a team, Stanford boasts the most potent offense in the conference, scoring 12.48 goals per game while on the defensive end the Cardinal is third, allowing just 5.67 goals per game.