Stanford Beats USC in Sudden Death in NCAA Semifinal

Stanford Water PoloHuddle
There were anxious moments as USC rallied late from a four-goal deficit, but Stanford held on for an epic win. Photo Courtesy: Shumesa Mohsin

STOCKTON, CA. In a hard fought and well-played game which was tied 8 times, the top seed Stanford Cardinal advanced to the championship game with 15-14 sudden victory over #4 seed USC. Redshirt Junior Ben Hallock finished off a set play with his 3rd goal 11 seconds into the 3rd overtime period to give his team the win.

John Vargas, Stanford

Stanford’s John Vargas, Photo Courtesy: Shumesa Mohsin

Stanford coach John Vargas lauded his leading scorer: “It’s all about Ben making the play, Quinn (Woodhead) made a nice pass into a small window, and it was a heck of a finish by Ben”. Hallock noted that 2019 was unusual in that the teams only faced each other once before: “We played pretty well at USC with a few missed goals and blocks and lost by one.”

The Cardinal advanced to the championship game on a rainy night at Chris Kjeldsen pool at Pacific University through a season best 5 goals from sophomore Quinn Woodhead, his last tally tied the game at 14 with only 19 seconds left in the 2nd overtime period. Lefty Tyler Abramson played a great all-around game scoring 4 goals, dishing 2 assists and claiming 2 steals before fouling out in the 2nd OT period.


Quinn Woodhead, Stanford 12-7-19

Quinn Woodhead, Stanford  Photo Courtesy: Shumesa Mohsin

USC entered the night with designs on making the championship final for a record 15th consecutive year. The Trojans brought their big game experience and it showed: The game was tied 6-6 with 2:54 to play in the 2nd quarter, when Stanford went on a 4 goal scoring run to build a 10-6 lead. Despite the deficit, USC stayed in the contest with goals by Jacob Mercep (2), Matt Maier, and Hannes Daube to cut the Cardinal lead to 12-10. Woodhead scored his 4th goal off a feed from A.J. Rossman to make the score 13-10 with only 2:14 to play in regulation.

First year USC head Coach Marko Pintaric called timeout and gave his team a simple message: “Fight on”. Simpler is better. Needing three to tie, USC got 2 straight markers from Mercep and a buzzer beating power play goal by fellow left-hander Luke Wyatt to send the game to extra time. From there, Goalie Nic Porter (15 saves) kept the Trojans in it by blocking a penalty shot by Abramson and then feeding Marin Dasic for a counterattack goal for USC’s first lead at 14-13 since the 2nd quarter when they were up 6-5.

Vargas kept his team calm in the face of losing a lead late. “We played moment to moment…they (USC) are really good but our guys responded well”. With the win, the Cardinal gave their MPSF coach of the year his ninth season on the Farm with at least 20 victories. On Sunday afternoon they will play for the title and their coach summed it up nicely: “We’re ready.”

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