STANFORD. Calif., Nov. 17. TOP-ranked and defending NCAA Division 1 champ Stanford (20-3) closed its home season this afternoon with a hard-fought 10-9 victory over sixth-ranked UC Irvine at the Cardinal's Avery Aquatic Center.
The game marked the last home match for the seniors who combined for four goals on offense and posted six saves in the net.
UCI's Anteaters challenged the Cardinal throughout the day, keeping the score tied at the end of every period. Stanford took an early 2-0 lead, but Irvine rallied back for the tie at 3-3 before taking its first lead in the second quarter. Stanford closed out the first half at 5-5.
Both teams scored once during the third period to keep it even at 6-6 with seven minutes remaining and Cardinal fans were beginning to wonder if the home team would incur its initial loss at Avery this season.
However, it was not to be, as in the final period, Stanford junior Mike Derse scored first with a goal at 5:25. The goal put the Cardinal up 7-6, but UC Irvine All-America Jeff Powers came back with a goal just 19 seconds later for the fifth tie of the day.
(Hey, didn't anybody tell Anteater coach Ted Newland this isn't the way the script's supposed to read?)
Stanford took the lead again on a man-up goal by senior Peter Hudnut, but UC Irvine was not to be deterred. Powers scored his fifth goal of the afternoon to bring the Anteaters back to an 8-8 tie.
With 2:44 remaining, Card senior Jeff Nesmith fired a shot past the UCI goalie for his second score of the match and Stanford was on top again, 9-8.
Then with two minutes remaining, sophomore Tony Azevedo — Stanford's Player of the Year last season and a Sydney Olympian — intercepted a pass from Rick Merlo to set up a score by Derse, which give Stanford a two-point cushion with 1:46 left on the clock.
With only 52 seconds left in the game, the Anteaters managed one more goal on a 6-on-5, but the Cardinal controlled the ball on offense and then earned an ejection with 22 seconds to secure the 10-9 victory.
Stanford seniors Nick Ellis and Jeff Guyman turned in top-notch efforts in their final match at Avery, with Ellis saving six potential goals and Ellis scoring one goal.
The Stanford senior class was honored before the game and will be remembered as one of the most successful classes in school history with three 20-plus win seasons in their four years on The Farm, not to mention one and perhaps two NCAA Championships.
The Cardinal will close out its regular season on Saturday, Nov. 23rd in Berkeley at 10:30 AM with the Big Splash against California. Later that afternoon the Golden Bears and Cardinal will renew acquaintances on the gridiron for the 105th time — although we doubt the polo series has lasted quite that long.
Stanford has secured the second-seed for the MPSF Championship Tournament, which will be held at Los Alamitos, CA. on Nov. 29th-Dec. 1st. Pepperdine, by virtue of its MPSF regular-season title, is the top seed.
– Bill Bell
Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Stanford 3 2 1 4 10
UC Irvine 3 2 1 3 9
Tony Azevedo 3, Mike Derse 3, Jeff Nesmith 2, Jeff Guyman 1, Peter Hudnut 1.
UC Irvine Scoring:
Jeff Powers 5, Dreason Barry 2, Garrett Gentry 1, Rick Merlo 1
Nick Ellis (Stan) 6
Doug Finrock (UCI) 8
UC Irvine 4-5