Oct. 10, 2010

 

Courtesy of Stanford Athletics

STANFORD, Calif. -
At times Saturday afternoon it may have seemed as if the No. 6 Stanford men's water polo team had anchored an aircraft carrier in front of its goal, as No. 1 USC just could not get past the Cardinal defense and goalie Brian Pingree. In the end, the defense held as the Cardinal defeated the Trojans, 5-3, at Avery Aquatic Center.

The victory snapped USC's 18-game winning streak dating back to last season, and ended Stanford's own 17-game slide against the Trojans, which dated back to the start of the 2005 season.

The Cardinal (7-4, 1-0 MPSF) will hit the road once more next weekend for a pair of MPSF contests. The weekend will start with a Friday night contest at No. 2 UCLA on Oct. 15, then conclude with a 12 noon contest at No. 5 UC Santa Barbara on Sunday, Oct. 17.

Pingree's 14 saves paced a phenomenal effort by the Cardinal defense, which held a USC offense that entered Saturday with an MPSF-leading 15.40 goals per game to just three goals.

On the offensive end, senior Jeffrey Schwimer scored twice while additional goals were added by Paul Rudolph, Peter Sefton and Sage Wright.

USC's Joel Dennerley made four saves while Mace Rapsey accounted for two Trojan goals and Nikola Vavic one.

Stanford got the scoring opened up early on, as Schwimer powered his way to the first of his two goals at the 5:33 mark of the first period.

The defenses battled back-and-forth, with Pingree making six saves in the opening period alone. It wasn't until three minutes later, with 2:38 remaining in the period, that Stanford doubled its lead as Sefton fired home from the point.

USC would waste little time getting on the board once the second period got underway, as Vavic found the back of the cage just 1:07 into the new frame. Stanford, though, would have an answer of its own, as Schwimer took a pass in the hole from Rudolph and, with a USC defender draped over his shoulders, still turned and fired home in a herculean effort to put Stanford back up by a pair at 3-1 with 4:44 to go in the half.

Things would stay that way for the rest of the half, and for much of the third, until the Cardinal put the Trojans into a three-goal hole with 1:09 left on the clock. Rudolph took a pass on the left side and skipped a shot under the outstretched right arm of Dennerley to put the Cardinal up 4-1.

As Pingree continued to stonewall the Trojan offense into the fourth period, Wright got into the scoring act 1:39 into the frame. Getting behind the USC defense, Wright corralled a pass and punched one past Dennerley for the 5-1 lead.

USC's offense showed life immediately afterward, as it only took 15 seconds for Rapsey to answer with his first goal of the game from the perimeter.

But Pingree and the Stanford would defense would dig in once more, holding the Trojans scoreless for just over four more minutes, until Rapsey again found the back of the cage with 1:43 remaining.

Another Pingree save with under a minute left would put USC on its back heel, as the Cardinal was able to run the clock down to 12 seconds remaining. USC would get one more chance to score on a five-meter penalty with a second on the clock, but in a final, definitive statement of the Cardinal defense's dominance, Pingree saved Vavic's penalty shot.

USC - 1 0 0 2 = 3
Stanford - 2 1 1 1 = 5

Stanford Goal Scorers: Schwimer 2, Rudolph, Sefton, Wright
USC Goal Scorers: Rapsey 2, Vavic Goalie Saves: Pingree 14 (S); Dennerley 4 (USC)