BELMONT SHORES, Calif., November 30. THERE'S just no stopping Tony Azevedo.
The Stanford junior driver, last year's NCAA Final Four Most Valuable Player and Player of the Year in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation the past two seasons, scored three goals to lead second-seeded Stanford to a come-from-behind, 9-7 victory over third-seeded UCLA in one semifinal of the MPSF Tournament at Belmont Plaza last evening.
The hat trick gives the 6-1, 185-pound Azevedo seven goals for the tournament, making him its leading scorer, and runs his nation-leading total to 78 goals in 24 matches.
In the other semi match, top-seeded USC ran its nation-leading unbeaten streak to 13 as it defeated last year's NCAA runner-up, Cal, 11-8, to advance to the championship match for the first time in four years.
The No. 1-nationally ranked and top-seeded Trojans will tangle with Stanford at 4:30 pm PST this afternoon with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships next weekend at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Ccenter.
The game will be be preceded by the third-place match between UCLA and Cal, which will begin at 3:00 PM. Stanford is 0-2 versus the Trojans this season, having lost a 10-9 double-overtime sudden-victory match in the finals of the SoCal tourney at Irvine in September, then losing a 9-7 MPSF game at USC in early October. In that match Stanford had a 4-2 halftime advantage, but then the Trojans scored seven unanswered goals before Stanford came back to close the gap.
Since then, Stanford is undefeated with its 13-match win steak equalling USC's for tops nationally.
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Stanford scored three-consecutive goals, starting at 1:41 in the third quarter to take its first lead against Coach Adam Krikorian's Bruins and went on to score the 9-7 victory over their third-seeded opponent before a sold-out crowd at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool.
The Cardinal, ranked second in the nation, trailed 3-2 after one period, and 6-5 at halftime with Tony A having been held scoreless by a relentless, swarming Bruin derfense.
But Cardinal coach John Vargas, hoping to win a second-consecutive national championship next weekend at home, had a few tricks up his sleeve too. In the third quarter Azevedo went to work and Stanford closed the gap.
The Bruins had never trailed until the Cardinal surge in that period but Azeevedo scored a pair to put Stanford ahead, 7-6, then added one more in the final period and the Cardinal was on its way to the championship showdown against the Trojans.
Bruin sophomore Brett Ormsby was the game's top scorer with five.
UCLA 3-3-1-0 = 7
Stanford 2-3-2-2 = 9
Azevedo 3, Crum 2, Moser 2, Hopkins 1, Wiesen 1
Ormsby 5, Greiner 1, March 1
Taylor (S) 7
Axelrad (UCLA) 9
MPSF – Day Two (Saturday, Nov. 29)
Stanford 9, UCLA 7
USC 11, California 8
Long Beach 10, UC Santa Barbara 7
Pepperdine 11, UC Irvine 10
Sunday's Schedule (Nov. 30)
Noon – Seventh Place Game – #7 seed UC Irvine vs #8 seed UC Santa Barbara
1:30 p.m. – Fifth Place Game – #5 seed Long Beach State vs #6 seed Pepperdine
3:00 p.m. – Third Place Game – #3 seed UCLA vs #4 seed California
4:30 p.m. – Championship Game – #1 seed USC vs #2 seed Stanford
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In the Trojans' victory over the Golden Bears, USC powered its way past fourth-seeded Cal 11-8 despite a late surge by the losers.
USC is now 21-3 on the season, the same as Stanford.
The Trojan offensive attack was led by James Shin and Juraj Zatovic, each posting hat-tricks. In the losing effort, Cal's Brian Kinsel netted a hat-trick of his own and goalie Tim Kates had 11 saves.
CAL SCORERS: Kinsel (3), Quist, Mann, Vasiljevic, Panawek, Born
USC SCORERS: Shin (3), Zatovic (3), Clark, Hale, Damjanov, Hadar, Erik Healy
CAL: Kates (11 GA A, 11 )
USC: Damjanovic (7 GA A, 5 saves), Ricci (1 GA A)