By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Drew Holland may be a freshman, though he plays more like a veteran. Stanford's goalkeeper recorded 11 saves and the fourth-ranked Cardinal handed visiting No. 2 UCLA its second loss of the season, 8-6, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contest Saturday.
The victory gave Stanford (1-1 in the MPSF, 11-4 overall) its first win over UCLA in four years, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Bruins. The victory also threw a little mud into the postseason arena.
The top four teams have seemed to separate themselves from the rest of the conference. Top-ranked USC has split two matches with the Bruins, as has the Cardinal. Stanford holds the tie-breaker with its MPSF win over UCLA.
Every match played in the MPSF has postseason implications, beginning with seeding for the MPSF tournament. The Cardinal has lost only to the three teams ranked above it and also owns a pair of wins over those teams.
"Every game is important," Stanford's Bret Bonnani said. "Since the NCAAs will be here, we want to be in the best possible position to play at home."
The key to Stanford's win occurred in the first five minutes of the second half, when the Bruins were on the offensive for all but a few precious moments. UCLA kept possessions alive for up to two minutes at a time and the Cardinal was limited to two missed shots.
The Bruins, who never led, drew within 4-3 at 3:06 of the third period. Thanks to Holland and a tough defense, UCLA was not able to get any closer.
"That's a real credit to the guys for staying mentally and physically tough during those long periods," Stanford coach John Vargas said. "And the freshman goalie was great."
None of his 11 saves were easy. He blocked shots every way possible, getting to balls that seemingly had 'goal' written all over them.
The Cardinal also stopped 11 UCLA power plays, though many of those turned into extra possession time.
"That's a lot of training and reading different type of shots," Holland said. "Defensively I have a lot of talented players in front of me."
Bonanni led the Cardinal with three goals Saturday, while Alex Bowen, BJ Churnside, Conner Cleary, Jackson Kimbell and Forrest Watkins each added a goal.
Stanford remains at home for a match Sunday against UC Davis at noon.