Men’s NCAA Water Polo: Stanford Wins Norcal Tournament, Remains Undefeated

PALO ALTO, Oct. 14. BACK in the '70s, a counter-culture Hollywood flick was dubbed "Who'll Stop the Rain?"

Were it to be remade today, it'd probably be entitled: "Who'll stop the Cardinal?", specifically, Coach Dante Dettamenti's top-ranked Stanford Cardinal men's water polo team, which swept past defending NCAA Champ UCLA in the finals of the NorCal Tournament here today, 10-6.

Led by star rookie red-shirt freshman Tony Azevado, who scored a pair of goals, and Peter Hudnut, who tossed in three, Stanford won the two-day tournament at its home pool Avery Aquatic Center in impressive fashion.

Third overall went to third-ranked Pepeprdine with a thrilling 9-8 overtime win over USC. Cal took fourth off its 11-4 victory over last year's NCAA runner-up, U Cal Irvine.

Stanford is now 10-zip on the season and a good bet to make it all the way into the NCAA finals the first weekend of December here at Avery.

UCLA falls to 8-2, with both losses coming at the hands of the Cardinal — 10-6 in Westwood two weeks ago — and then again here today.

However, neither defeat was in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play, which is significant in that the MPSF winner gets an automatic bye into the NCAA Final Four.

But the way the top-ranked Cardinal is playing that matter may be entirely academic as Stanford simply has no weaknesses. With Azevado's scoring and defensive strengths plus a strong nucleus of veteran players surrounding the rookie, the Cardinal has an excellent chance of running the table the balance of the season.

In the finale against UCLA, Azevado scored a couple of early goals as Stanford went up, 2-0. The Bruins came back to tie it, 2-2, at the end of the quarter. By halftime the outcome was still undecided as Stanford led, 4-3.

However, Hudnot rifled home a pair of goals late in the third period to give Stanford a 7-4 advantage, and that was how the match ended.

UCLA freshman Brett Orsmby, a talented driver who had scored a trio of goals in the earlier Cardinal game at UCLA, was held in check here today, scoring but once.

Stanford reached the finals with an 8-6 win over Pepperdine, Azevado accounting for five goals. In Stanford's four wins over the two-day tournament Azevado, a member of the United States Olympic team at Sydney, scored 15 goals and now has 35 for the season — by far the leading scorer nationally.

UCLA gets one last chance to thwart Stanford's bid for an undefeated season when it travels to Palo Alto two weeks from now (Oct. 27) in conjunction with the Bruin-Cardinal football game.

Stanford's hopes for an undefeated season in football vanished amidst a 45-39 loss to still-unbeaten Washington State over the weekend but their polo team keeps flying high.

However, if UCLA polo coach Adam Krikorian has one consoling thought it's this: last spring the Stanford women's water polo team was undefeated going into the inaugural NCAA Finals (at home) against UCLA — and had trounced the Bruins the previous weekend in Hawaii during the MPSF playoffs.

But when the splashing stopped at Avery the second Sunday in May, UCLA emerged as national champions.

— Bill Bell

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