National Collegiate Men's Water Polo Championship Central
Friday, Nov. 28 - Malibu, Calif.
MPSF Tournament Quarterfinal
No. 3 Stanford (24-5)
- at -
No. 5 Loyola Marymount (20-9) - 6:45 p.m.
STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 3 Stanford men's water polo team (24-5) goes for the 11th national title of its illustrious history in the cozy confines of Avery Aquatic Center this weekend, opening up play in the National Collegiate Men's Water Polo Championship against No. 5 Loyola Marymount (20-9) Saturday at 6:45 p.m. Rounding out the tournament field are No. 1 USC (27-0) and No. 11 Navy (20-9), set to play at 5 p.m. Saturday. The winners of Saturday's contests will meet in the National Championship Game Sunday at 3 p.m., set to be televised live on CBS College Sports Network.
About The Opposition
Stanford and Loyola Marymount have already met twice this season, with the Cardinal capturing both contests, the first by a score of 10-5 on Sept. 20 at the NorCal Tournament, and the second a 10-8 decision Oct. 11 at the SoCal Tournament. The Lions, the WWPA champion making their sixth tournament appearance in the last eight years, are led by the scoring of Tibor Forai (50 goals) and by the defense of goalkeeper Andy Stevens (7.84 goals-against average, 297 saves on the season).
USC, the MPSF regular-season and tournament champion, makes its 23rd overall and fourth consecutive appearance in the tournament. No. 4 seed Navy, the CWPA champion, returns to the tournament for the third straight season.
Stanford In The National Rankings
Stanford fell a spot to No. 3 in the national rankings following a third-place finish at the MPSF Tournament this past weekend in Malibu. After claiming a 13-7 quarterfinal victory over Long Beach State, the Cardinal were upset, 8-7 in overtime, by the host Pepperdine Waves. Stanford would bounce back to claim third place with a 10-7 victory over UCLA.
Sandman Named MPSF Co-Player Of The Year
Cardinal goalkeeper Jimmie Sandman on Tuesday became the first Stanford player since Tony Azevedo in 2004 to take home at least a share of the MPSF's top honor, being named the conference's Co-Player of the Year. After redshirting the 2007 season, Sandman returned to the Stanford cage and established himself among the nation's elite as he led the MPSF with a goals-against average of 4.84 and averaged 7.84 saves a game.
Cardinal Get Five Named To All-MPSF Teams
Sandman's Co-Player of the Year honor highlighted five Stanford selections to the All-MPSF Teams. The goalkeeper was one of two Cardinal first-teamers, as Sage Wright earned his second straight first-team selection. Brothers Drac and Janson Wigo, the Cardinal's leading goal scorers, each earned a place on the second team, and senior utility Will Hindle-Katel earned the fourth All-MPSF honor of his career.
Stanford's National Collegiate Championship History
This weekend's competition marks Stanford's 26th overall appearance in the National Collegiate Championship, and the first since 2005. The Cardinal has captured 10 national titles in program history, with the first title coming in 1976 and the most recent coming in back-to-back years from 2001-02. In Stanford's last three postseason appearances, the Cardinal has finished second (2003-05).
Cardinal Take Third At MPSF Tournament
In a very competitive weekend of action at the MPSF Tournament, Stanford got quite a few solid efforts that helped the Cardinal take third place. Goalkeeper Jimmie Sandman was the defensive star, making a total of 35 saves over the three games, including a pair of 12-save efforts. On the offensive end of the tank, Drac Wigo led the Cardinal over the weekend with nine goals, including a four-goal performance in a quarterfinal victory over Long Beach State. Janson Wigo netted six goals in the tournament while Will Hindle-Katel found the net four times in the win over Long Beach State.
Seniors Getting One Last Chance
This weekend also marks the final weekend of play, and a final chance for a national title for four Stanford seniors: Andrew Drake, Will Hindle-Katel, Chris Jacobson and Steven Wright. All four have made key contributions to Stanford's run over this 2008 season, with Hindle-Katel scoring a career-high 34 goals heading into Saturday's game to pace the quartet. Drake has been another scoring option, netting 24 goals, while Jacobson has added 16 goals and Wright has also made his presence known with four goals on the season.
Who's It Going To Be?
One thing that makes the Cardinal so tough to scout is the fact that at any given time in the water, any Stanford player can be a viable threat to score. Eleven of the 17 Cardinal players to score a goal this season have racked up a double-digit total, with Janson and Drac Wigo leading the way with 54 and 52 goals, respectively. Sage Wright (37 goals) and Will Hindle-Katel (34) have surpassed the 30-goal mark, while seven more Stanford scorers have goal totals ranging from Andrew Drake's 24 to Ryan McCarthy's 14.
Among The MPSF Leaders
With one weekend left in the 2008 regular season, Stanford continues to hold lofty positions in the MPSF statistical rankings. In the team stats categories, the Cardinal boasts the conference's third-most efficient offense, with 11.17 goals per game. On the defensive end, the Cardinal defense is also second with just 5.21 goals allowed per game.
Individually, Janson and Drac Wigo continue to hold spots in the conference's top 10 for goals per game. Janson's 1.86 goals per game ranks seventh in the MPSF, while Drac's average of 1.79 stands eighth. Sage Wright is also in the MPSF's top 25, standing tied for 23rd with an average of 1.28.
On the defensive end of the tank, starter Jimmie Sandman is second in the conference with a 4.84 goals-against average among all full-time MPSF goalkeepers, while fellow cage-minder Brian Pingree boasts a 2.50 goals-against average over his 12 appearances on the year.
Head Coach John Vargas
Head coach John Vargas enters his seventh year at the helm of the Cardinal program in 2008. Vargas' record at Stanford is 147-44 (.770) against the top collegiate competition in the country, and he led the Cardinal to the 2002 national title in his first year at the helm. Including this season, he has also led the Cardinal to the 20-win mark five times. Under Vargas' watch, 29 Stanford water polo players have earned All-America honors, including six in 2007, the program's highest total since 2001. Three of his former Stanford players, Tony Azevedo, Peter Hudnut, and Peter Varellas, represented the United States as part of its 2008 Olympic Team in Beijing.