Big Splash Saturday
It’s Big Splash weekend, and the Steve Heaston Trophy is on the line as third-ranked Stanford men’s water polo hosts No. 5 California Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Avery Aquatic Center. Saturday’s contest will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Network with Jason Knapp and Greg Mescall calling the action.
This year’s result will break a 7-7 tie in the series since the Steve Heaston Trophy was established for the winner of the Big Splash. California has captured the past two contests.
The Cardinal (18-4, 6-1 MPSF) enters the game on an eight-game winning streak, most recently capturing a thrilling 17-16 overtime decision at No. 2 USC last Saturday. A victory against California would clinch a top-two seed for the Cardinal at next weekend's MPSF Tournament in Stockton.
Saturday will mark the third meeting of the season between Stanford and California. The Cardinal captured both contests, defeating the Golden Bears 12-10 in the NorCal Invitational third-place game on Sept. 22, followed by a 14-8 win in the UCI Invitational second round on Oct. 12.
Saturday’s contest will also serve as Stanford’s Senior Day, in which the Cardinal’s three-man senior class of goalie Scott Platshon, driver Paul Rudolph and two-meter Forrest Watkins will be honored in a pregame ceremony.
Rudolph comes into the game as the reigning MPSF/KAP 7 Player of the Week, the first of his career. Last Saturday in Los Angeles the redshirt senior scored four goals, including the buzzer-beater as time expired, in the Cardinal’s victory over USC. Three of Rudolph’s four goals came over the six minutes of overtime as the Cardinal defeated USC for the first time since 2011.
Sophomore Bret Bonanni leads the Cardinal with 74 goals this season, having already eclipsed his 2012 total of 73. Junior utility Alex Bowen is also ahead last season’s pace, having scored 58 goals entering Saturday’s game. BJ Churnside (31 goals), Jackson Kimbell (24) and Watkins (24) are each over the 20-goal mark, with Conner Cleary (19) and Rudolph (18) knocking on the door.
Fifth-ranked California (16-6, 4-3 MPSF) enters Saturday's Big Splash having won three of its past five contests, most recently downing UC Irvine, 17-4, in Berkeley last Sunday. The Golden Bears are led by the scoring of Colin Mulcahy (34 goals), Aleksa Saponjic (33) and Collin Smith (32) while in the cage California goes with the platoon of Jon Sibley (7.23 goals-against average, 127 saves) and Michael Boggan (6.90 goals-against average, 100 saves).