Card to MPSF Final
LOS ANGELES – Stanford moved closer to the NCAA tournament by beating UCLA, 11-8, in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament semifinals on Saturday at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center.
The Cardinal (5-3) plays top-ranked and top-seeded Cal (8-3), an 11-8 semifinal winner over USC, in the championship Sunday at 2 p.m. for an automatic NCAA berth. By reaching the final, Stanford assuredly wrapped up at least an at-large bid. This season, the NCAA tournament includes three at-large teams, making the MPSF semifinalists the most likely candidates. Reaching the semifinals cements those chances.
The game turned in the second quarter when, with Stanford trailing 5-4, Beck Jurasius took a pass from Soren Jensen and tied the game with a scoop shot from the center of the defense with 1:05 left. And, moments later, Tyler Abramson put the Cardinal ahead for good on a left-handed shot from the right perimeter that snuck inside the near post with 17 seconds left.
When AJ Rossman scored 50 seconds into the second half, Stanford had a 7-5 lead with three unanswered goals within 1:55.
Twice in the second half UCLA closed within a goal, but each time Stanford immediately answered, first on a goal by Troy Gleason and then on Soren Jensen's measured shot through a sea of hands from straight on with three seconds left in the third period on a power play for a 9-7 lead.
Tyler Abramson, AJ Rossman, and Quinn Woodhead led the Cardinal with two goals apiece, and Rossman had two assists.
The Cardinal relied heavily on defense. Indeed, Stanford held UCLA (6-6) to only three goals over the game's final 18 minutes, 23 seconds. UCLA's Nicolas Savelijic, who entered the weekend as the conference leader in goals (28) and goals per game (2.6) was held to one.
Andrew Chun. Photo by Catharyn Hayne.
Stanford goalie Andrew Chun had eight saves and saved the game's only penalty.
Stanford and UCLA are ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, by the CWPA, but their MPSF seeds are switched, meaning UCLA had a bye into the semis. UCLA was the only opponent among the Big Four of Cal, UCLA and USC that Stanford had not beaten this season, with both previous games decided by a combined three goals.
Stanford and Cal split their two regular season games. Cal won 16-11 on Feb. 7 at USC, and Stanford won, 17-10, at home on Feb. 20. The Golden Bears feature MPSF Player of the Year Nikolaos Papanikolaou.
The game is livestreamed for a fee on mpsports.org, also can be followed at this link and at @stanfordmwp on Twitter and Instagram.
Tyler Abramson with the ball. Photo by Catharyn Hayne.
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Stanford 11, UCLA 8
Stanford 2 4 3 2 – 11
UCLA 2 3 2 1 – 8
Stanford goals: Tyler Abramson (2), AJ Rossman (2), Quinn Woodhead (2), Beck Jurasius, Troy Gleason, Walker Seymour, Soren Jensen, Larsen Weigle.
UCLA goals: Jake Cavano (2), Gabe Discipulo, Jack Larsen, Andy Rodgers, Hayden Nightingale, Nicolas Saveljic, Giorgio Allessandria.
Saves: Andrew Chun (S) 8; Garret Griggs (UCLA) 12.
Main photo: Quinn Woodhead (front) and AJ Rossman (behind) play fierce defense against MPSF scoring leader Nicolas Saveljic. Photo by Catharyn Hayne.