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Men's Water Polo: 4 Close Games Highlight Opening Round of MPSF Tourney -- November 30, 2002

LOS ALAMITOS, CA., November 30. TOP-ranked and defending NCAA champ Stanford kept its hopes for a second consecutive men's national collegiate water polo title alive yesterday afternoon with a tough 12-9 quarter-final match victory against a determined University of the Pacific squad.

The game was one of four played here at the U.S. national water polo team's home training base, the Joint Forces Training Base, which is host site for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.

The winner receives an automatic bid into next weekend's NCAA Final Four at Loyola-Marymount University in the Los Angeles suburb of Westchester.

Other winners today included top-seeded and MPSF regular-season champ Pepperdine, which upended Cal. State Long Beach, 11-9; Cal's Golden Bears, which stopped U Cal Irvine, 8-4; and UCLA, which defeated crosstown rival USC in double-overtime, 7-6.

Cal plays Stanford today at 6:30 PM PST in one semi-final match while UCLA takes on Pepperdine in the other at 5 PM. The winners meet Sunday evening at 6:30 PM for the championship, preceded by t he third-place match at 5 PM.

* * * * *

Stanford's Cardinal (22-3) toppled the UOP Tigers (10-13) after jumping out to an 8-4 first-half lead, with three goals coming from senior hole man Peter Hudnut.

Five different Stanford players scored in the first quarter, but Pacific stayed close. Down five after sophomore Tony Azevedo -- last year's NCAA Player of the Year and this year's leading national scorer -- scored with just over two minutes to go in the third period, the Tigers fired off the next three goals to get within two.

Hudnut tallied his fourth goal of the day in the fourth quarter to keep the Tigers at bay, and Azevedo tacked on his third of the day as Stanford secured the win.

Pacific goalkeeper Laurie Trettel fought off an offensive attack today as he collected 11 saves, while the Cardinal defense limited the Tigers to only 3 of 13 on 6-on-5 attempts.

The Cardinal, in facing third-seeded California at 6:30 PM this evening in one semi-final match, will bring a 2-1 against the Golden Bears in 2002 -- with all three games having been decided by one goal.

BOX SCORE

Stanford Scoring: Peter Hudnut 4, Tony Azevedo 3, Mike Derse 3, Reed Gallogly 1, Jeff Guyman 1.

Pacific Scorers: Eddie Wisniewski 3, Nic Hepner 2, Sasha Maese 2, Chris Nowak 2.

Goalie Saves:
Nick Ellis (Stan) 2
Laurie Trettel (UOP) 11.

6-on-5:
Stanford 4-7
Pacific 3-13.

* * * * *

After being just two seconds away from a first-round defeat, the third-ranked UCLA Bruins pulled out a 7-6 sudden-death overtime victory over crosstown rival USC.

The fifth-seeded Bruins, last season's national runner-up to Stanford and NCAA champs in '99-'00, advance to a semifinal match-up against MPSF champ Pepperdine -- 1997 NCAA champs.

The Bruins and Trojans headed into overtime tied at 4-4 after four quarters of physical play that saw three different lead changes.

UCLA struck first in the first of the two three-minute overtime periods. Sophomore driver Brett Ormsby found the net for the fourth time in the contest with 0:32 remaining in the period. The Trojans were unable to match the goal and UCLA led 5-4 going into the second overtime period.

USC was the first to score in the second- eriod when Predrag Damjanov talied his second goal of the match with 1:55 remaining, evening the score at 5. Only 43 seconds later, Jaraj Zatovic recorded another Trojan goal to give USC a 6-5 advantage.

Sophomore center Ted Peck thought he had brought the Bruins back to a tie when his shot appeared to have floated past the Trojan goalkeeper with 40 seconds remaining.

However, Bozidar Damjanovic kept the ball from entering the goal and USC took possession. After the Trojan possession, UCLA pulled goalkeeper Brandon Brooks out of the cage and into the field in a final effort to re-tie the score.

On the final Bruin possession, USC had an ejection called against them with four seconds left. Ormsby struck again with a 6 on 5 goal with only two seconds remaining to send the match into sudden-victory overtime.

Junior driver Albert Garcia won the face-off for the Bruins and gave them the first golden-goal overtime possession. It proved to be all the Bruins would need, as senior center defender Dan Yeilding gave UCLA the win only 29 seconds into the period.

BOX SCORE

1-2-3-4-OT=Final
UCLA 2-1-0-1-3 7
USC 1-2-1-0-2 6

UCLA- Brett Ormsby (5), Josh Hewko, Dan Yeilding
USC - Predrag Damjanov (2), Gadi Hadar, James Shin, Stephen Lipinski, Jaraj Zatovic

Goalkeepers
UCLA- Brandon Brooks (8 saves, 6 GA A)
USC - Bozidar Damjanovic (7 saves, 7 GA A)

* * * * *
Sophomore utilityman Jesse Smith scored a game-high four goals and No. 6 ranked Pepperdine defeated No. 7 Cal. State Long Beach by an 11-9 score in the third first-round MPSF tournament game played last night.

The Waves, 15-9, now face UCLA. Pepperdine defeated the Bruins in their only meeting earlier this season at Westwood in double-overtime.

Long Beach's 49ers and Pepperdine engaged in an entertaining contest that featured six lead changes and nine ties. However, Pepperdine scored the final two goals in the fourth quarter to earn the victory.

The 49ers advanced to the first round after defeating No. 12 UC Santa Barbara in a play-in contest earlier in the day by a final score of 8-5.

Wave junior driver Jeremy Grubbs tallied his second goal of the night at the 5:37 mark of the fourth quarter to give Pepperdine a 10-9 lead, and Smith capped the scoring with a goal with 1:50 remaining to seal the win.

Sophomore holeman Josh Acosta scored three goals for Pepperdine, while junior driver Scott Harvey and senior two-meter man Karl Niehaus each scored one goal for the Waves.

Sophomore two-meter man Erik Geoffroy and senior driver Aaron Holloway both scored three goals to pace the 49ers.

BOX SCORE

Long Beach State 3 1 4 1 -- 9
Pepperdine 3 1 5 2 -- 11

Long Beach State Scoring: Erik Geoffroy (3), Aaron Holloway (3), Nathan Allard (2), David Del Grande (1)

Pepperdine Scoring: Jesse Smith (4), Josh Acosta (3), Jeremy Grubbs (2), Scott Harvey (1), Karl Niehaus (1)

Long Beach State Goalkeeping: Thomas Onyshko; 5 saves and 11 goals allowed

Pepperdine Goalkeeping: Michael Soltis; 6 saves and 9 goals allowed


* * * * *

Cal junior All-America Attila Banhidy, a member of his native Hungary's national squad, scored three of his four goals in the first half and junior two-meter Greg Panawek scored twice in the third quarter to lead the Golden Bears (17-6) to an 8-4 win over UC Irvine (15-10) in the final opening-round MPSF tourney action.

Jeff Powers led UCI with two goals. Banhidy scored at 4:34 and 0:58 in the first quarter and 2:41 in the second to give the Golden Bears a 3-1 halftime lead. His final goal came at 2:44 in the fourth, pushing the Cal advantage to 7-4. Cal's final goal was by Peter Conte at 1:25.

UCI closed to within 6-4 at 6:39 in the fourth on Powers' second goal, but Banhidy halted the UCI rally with his fourth goal at 2:44. Cal goalie Russell Bernstein finished with 13 saves while his counterpart, Doug Finfrock, could only muster three.

-- Bill Bell


BOX SCORE
UCI (15-10) 0-1-2-1---4
Cal (17-6) 2-1-3-2---8

Scoring:
UCI: Jeff Powers 2, Phil Garcia 1, Garrett Gentry 1

CAL: Attila Banhidy 4, Greg Panawek 2, Peter Conte 1, Will Quist 1

Goalie Saves:
Doug Finfrock (UCI) 3
Russell Bernstein (Cal) 1