Cardinal men open water polo season this weekend in San Diego


The Stanford men's water polo team will jump into the deep end this weekend, opening its season with a full slate of games in San Diego.

The Cardinal (22-8 last year) will play four matches total, competing in the Triton Invitational on the UC San Diego campus on Saturday and the UCLA Invitational in San Diego on Sunday.

Reid Chase
Stanford opens Saturday at 8:40 a.m. against host UC San Diego and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 2:40 p.m. at the Triton Pool at Canyonview Aquatic Center.

The Cardinal will participate in the UCLA Invitational at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego on Sunday, facing Chapman at 10:20 a.m. and Redlands at 1 p.m.

Stanford begins its 15th season under Director of Men's Water Polo John Vargas, who has amassed an impressive 290-89 career record with the Cardinal, posting nine 20-win seasons that also includes the 2002 NCAA championship.

Stanford was picked to finish fourth, by a vote of the coaches, in the revamped Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

The five-team conference features UCLA, USC, California, Stanford and newcomer Penn State Behrend, which will compete only in the conference championship tournament.

Pacific, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, Long Beach State, Pepperdine and San Jose State left to form the Golden Coast Conference.

All-American goalie Drew Holland is the top returning player from last year. He enters the season with 742 career saves, two shy from the school record and 12 away from breaking into the MPSF’s all-time top-10.

The Cardinal had three of its top four scorers from last year graduate, including Olympian and the school's all-time scoring leader (360 goals) in Bret Bonanni and his 94 goals.

Adam Abdulhamid (59) and BJ Churnside (33) are also gone from last season. However, a deep Stanford roster that returns 16 letterwinners will seek to step into expanded roles.

Junior Cody Smith posted 14 goals in the Cardinal's final 10 games and finished the season tied for fifth on the team with 27 goals last year.

Expect to see a lot more of Mitchell Mendoza this season. The redshirt sophomore netted 25 goals last season, despite missing nearly half the year. Reid Chase (38 goals) and Connor Stapleton (28) also return.

Blake Parrish, Jackson Kimbell, Justin Roberto, Marco Stanchi, Kyle Weikert, Harrison Enright, Sam Pfeil, Adam Warmoth, Spencer Rogers and Grady Williams all scored at least three goals last year and goalie Oliver Lewis appeared in 14 games.

The Cardinal welcomes a heralded five-member freshman class that could see several individuals contribute immediately, including Ben Hallock, who played with Bonanni on the U.S. Olympic team.

Redshirt freshman Nelson Perla-Ward will be joined by newcomers Andrew Chun, Bennett Williams, Dylan Woodhead and Duncan MacTavish.

Stanford will make its first appearance at Avery Aquatics Center this season on Saturday, Sept. 10, against UC Irvine at 1 p.m.

— Rick Eymer/Palo Alto Online Sports

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