2004 USA Water Polo Men’s Nationals – Semi-finals; Finals; All-Americans

Los Angeles, Calif., August 21. LOYOLA Marymount University, played host to the 2004 Men’s National Championships that wrapped up August 8 with Stanford WPF as Champions, according to USA Water Polo reports.

By the time the men met at Marymount, the women's nationals and Junior Olympic tournaments had all come and gone. The Men’s 16-team event, sponsored by S & S Hardware Company, Inc., had representation from six zones, including three teams from outside California. Kearns hails from Utah, and New York AC brought a pair of teams to represent the East Coast. Players ranged from high school, to college, to masters and former national teamers, rounding out the competition with a wealth of experience and age levels.

Semifinal 1

Stanford WPF 8, Bruin WPF 6

In the first semifinal, Stanford punched its ticket to the championship game by getting ahead of the Bruin squad early. Thomas Hopkins put Stanford up first with a blazing score from about nine meters out, but 45 seconds later Bruin's Mike Marsh answered back for a 1-1 tie. Stanford's Peter Varellas served up another assist for Stanford's next goal, passing off to Samuel Tyre to slip back into the lead. Stanford goalie Chad Taylor registered a save that got Stanford back on the attack, and Tyler Drake took advantage of the opportunity for a 3-1 Stanford lead in the first quarter. Albert Garcia pulled UCLA back within one in the second quarter, and then Stanford sandwiched goals from Matthew Moser and Greg Crum around a four-meter penalty save by Taylor to bump to a 5-2 lead for halftime. Garcia punched in another for UCLA to open the second half, only to have Stanford streak farther ahead on goals from Crum and Varellas. Now trailing 7-3, UCLA mustered up a goal from Thomas Foley and a pair of scores by Garcia across the two periods to make it 7-6 with 5:40 left to play. Stanford stopped the three-goal run with a sharp power play goal from Varellas, taking an 8-6 lead. Taylor continued to take a stand in the cage for Stanford, squelching some key Bruin chances in the final few minutes of play.

Bruin WPF 1 1 2 2 — 6
Stanford WPF 3 2 2 1 — 8

Individual Scoring
Bruin: Garcia 4, March 1, Foley 1
Stanford: Crum 2, Varellas 2, Hopkins 1, Tyre 1, Drake 1, Moser 1

Goal Saves
Bruin: Axelrad 5
Stanford: Taylor 14

Player Advantage Scoring:
Bruin: 3 for 9, 0 for 1 penalty shots
Stanford: 4 for 8

Semifinal 2

Olympic Club 6, NYAC A 4

The semifinal matchup between two veteran squads proved competitive from the start as the teams stayed neck-and-neck to the tune of a 2-2 draw after one quarter of play. Kirk Everist gave Olympic Club a leg up in the second quarter to make it 3-2, and although NYAC goalie Merrill Moses stopped an Olympic Club four-meter penalty strike, Olympic Club was able to pad the lead later with a goal from Christian Napolitano. Will Quist made it 5-2 Olympic Club off the counterattack with 1:08 left in the half. NYAC got it together and stopped the run with a score by Matthew Flesher at the three-minute mark of the third quarter. That held as the only goal of the quarter, but Olympic Club's Spencer Dornin and NYAC's John Kocur traded scores in the fourth to keep it a two-goal game. That was it for the game, and Olympic Club had the trip to the gold-medal game in hand. That also ended the day with a bronze medal for NYAC because of Bruin's forfeit of the third-place game.

NYAC A 2 0 1 1 — 4
Olympic Club 2 3 0 1 — 6

Individual Scoring
NYAC A: Flesher 2, Kocur 1, Gill 1
Olympic Club: C. Napolitano 2, G. Napolitano 1, Everist 1, Quist 1, Dornin 1

Goal Saves
NYAC A: Moses 5
Olympic Club: Kates 5

Player Advantage Scoring:
NYAC A: 1 for 4
Olympic Club: 1 for 5, 0 for 1 penalty shots

Third Place
NYAC A wins bronze due to Bruin WPF forfeit.


Stanford 9, Olympic Club 8

The gold-medal game was a unique twist on the Big Splash rivalry, pitting the former UC Berkeley players of the Olympic Club against current Stanford stars. The competitive streak was clearly still alive. Olympic Club's five-goal fourth quarter helped force overtime. Sam Tyre grabbed Stanford the first lead of the first three-minute overtime period, and then Olympic Club misfired on its only 6-on-5 chance of the frame. That left Olympic Club in a 9-8 hole for the second overtime period. With 1:06 remaining, Olympic Club got another 6-on-5 to work with. Crum blocked the shot in the field, sending Stanford off on the counter. That was stopped, and Olympic Club struck back. Taylor stuffed the shot, and with just seven second left, the gold medal was all Stanford's with the 9-8 overtime decision.

During regulation, the younger Cardinal representatives took the lead in the first quarter and then added to it with a series of goals in the second. Greg Crum started the run and then Thomas Hopkins and Tyre kept the run going on the way to a 5-1 lead. Olympic Club had a chance to end the streak on a 6-on-5, but Chad Taylor notched a key save. Again, Olympic Club was up on a power play. Attila Bahidy's strike went off the bar, but teammate Christian Napolitano was there for the rebound and shoved in the score for Olympic Club to make it 5-2 Stanford with 1:45 left in the half. Stanford's defense turned away a number of Olympic Club offensive strikes, and one such Olympic Club miss fed into Stanford's counterattack. Peter Varellas finished off that chance for Stanford to make it 6-2, but Gavin Arroyo struck right back for Olympic Club.
He finally cracked the Stanford defense to cut the score to 6-3, only to have Taylor smack down two more Olympic Club opportunities to preserve the three-goal lead for the fourth quarter.

The fourth was a wild one as Olympic Club powered up to make its comeback run. Will Quist drew an ejection deep on the Olympic Club counterattack and later finished off the possession off a pass to set from Spencer Dornin. Now trailing 6-4, Olympic Club got in gear. Giovanni Napolitano set up brother Christian for a backhand score from two meters, and Olympic Club was within one with 4:30 still to play. Christian Napoolitano came up big again in the same spot. He whipped in the equalizer at 3:35, making it 6-6. Now it was Stanford's turn to stop the scoring spurt, and it did so with a rocket from Crum. Battling the shot clock, Olympic Club had just enough time to work the ball around to Quist, who dumped it to Everist. Everist powered in the tying score with just under a minute left to play. With 30 seconds left, Olympic Club earned one last man advantage and took a timeout to get set. Giovanni Napolitano skipped in the crucial go-ahead score on the power play, leaving Stanford with just nine seconds to work with. That was enough. Hopkins blazed in a score from the top, and the teams were locked up once again to bring up overtime at 8-8.

Olympic Club 1 1 1 5 — 0 0 — 8
Stanford 2 3 1 2 — 1 0 — 9

Individual Scoring
Olympic Club: C. Napolitano 3, Banhidy 1, Arroyo 1, Quist 1, Everist 1, G. Napolitano 1
Stanford: Crum 2, Hopkins 2, Tyre 2, Garton 1, Wagner 1, Varellas 1

Goal Saves
Olympic Club: Kates 4
Stanford: Taylor 7

Player Advantage Scoring:
Olympic Club: 3 for 11
Stanford: 1 for 4

2004 Men's Nationals All-Americans

First Team
MVP: Thomas Hopkins Stanford
Merrill Moses (G) NYAC A
Juraj Zatovic Trojan
Sean Kern NYAC A
John Mann Lamorinda
Alex Rousseau NYAC A
Christian Napolitano Olympic Club
Spencer Dornin Olympic Club
Jon Axelrad (G) Bruin
Attila Banhidy Olympic Club
Peter Varellas Stanford
Giovanni Napolitano Olympic Club
Chad Taylor (G) Stanford

Honorable Mention
Albert Garcia Bruin
Dreason Barry Newport
Mike March Bruin
James Shin Trojan
Larry Mouchawar Bay Area Masters
Rick Merlo Newport
Ted Peck Bruin
Nate Bennett (G) Lamorinda
Marty Matthies Lamorinda
Nick Andrecic Trojan
Chris Lathrop Olympic Club
Steve Gill NYAC A
Matt Flesher NYAC A

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