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Men’s water polo continues slide with weekend losses
Senior BJ Churnside (above) was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing weekend for the Cardinal, notching 5 goals. The Cardinal have lost four games straight, all to top-5 teams. (SHIRLEY PEFLEY/stanfordphoto.com).

Men’s water polo continues slide with weekend losses

The No. 4 Stanford men’s water polo team (14-6, 0-3 MPSF) had a rough weekend, losing 8-12 to No. 1 UCLA (19-0, 3-0) on Saturday at home before traveling to Stockton on Sunday, where it suffered a 7-11 defeat against No. 5 University of the Pacific (16-2, 3-0).

Assistant Coach Jonathan Barnea acknowledged the team’s mistakes, admitting, “There are a lot of little things to address and clean up,”  but later continued on an upbeat note: “We have the talent to play with anybody.”

The Cardinal are now 0-2 against the Bruins, as Stanford had previously faced UCLA a few weeks ago in the Kap7 NorCal Invitational, in which they had lost 7-8.

On Saturday, though the Bruins scored first, the two teams traded goals as seniors Adam Abdulhamid, BJ Churnside, and Bret Bonanni each scored for Stanford, resulting in a 3-3 score early in the second quarter. Bonanni’s tying goal was a beautiful lob shot that floated right over the head of the Bruin goalkeeper, junior Garrett Danner.

The Bruins then went on a streak, netting the next three goals in less than four minutes, giving them a 6-3 lead. Stanford struck back with a run of its own, with Churnside scoring twice in the last three minutes of the half to complete his hat trick. Abdulhamid made a skip shot into the corner of the cage 43 seconds into the second half to cap off the Cardinal run, tying the game 6-6.

UCLA then came on strong, scoring five unanswered goals in the next nine minutes, as Bruin junior Patrick Fellner recorded a hat trick of his own.

With the Bruins leading 11-6, Bonanni recovered a rebound and shoved it in the goal, notching his second goal of the game and snapping the Bruins’ streak.  Each team scored once more in the contest, with both Abdulhamid and Bruin Daniel McClintick recording hat tricks of their own, resulting in a 12-8 Bruin victory.

While discussing the momentum shift in the Bruins’ favor in the third quarter after his goal, Abdulhamid explained, “We need to focus all of our energy and effort on defense [once we’ve tied a game] and then whatever comes on offense comes.”

After this disappointing loss, the Cardinal hoped for redemption in Sunday’s game but were unable to defeat the University of the Pacific Tigers.

Similar to the UCLA game, the teams traded goals in the first half, with two goals from Abdulhamid and scores from Churnside and juniors Jackson Kimbell and Reid Chase. Bonanni scored from an almost-pool-length-long feed from junior goalie Drew Holland with only a second left in the half, tying the game 6-6.

In the middle of the third quarter, the Tigers scored two goals within 47 seconds, breaking the tie. Churnside tightened the gap with a goal in the last 1:02 of the quarter, but sophomore Tiger Devon Thumwood netted a goal with only two seconds left in the third quarter, giving Pacific a two-goal lead.

The Tiger defense was strong in the fourth quarter, not allowing a single goal from the Cardinal. Meanwhile, the Tigers scored twice more in the final three minutes of the game, leading to an 11-7 victory.

Stanford will have to make some changes to end its four-game losing streak, but the team does not have much time to revamp its strategy as it has another two games next weekend.

The Cardinal’s next opponent is No. 6 UC Santa Barbara, who they play next Saturday at 4 p.m. at Stanford’s own Avery Aquatic Center. They will then travel to San Jose to play San Jose State at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

 

Contact Selby Sturzenegger at selby ‘at’ stanford.edu.