The second-seeded Stanford men's water polo scored seven straight goals to erase a deficit and beat No. 7 Long Beach State, 12-6, in the quarterfinal of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament at Pacific on Friday.
The Cardinal (20-4) meets UCLA (27-2) in Saturday's semifinal at 3 p.m. The Bruins beat UC Santa Barbara in their quarterfinal match. Stanford and UCLA have split two matches this year.
Sacred Haert Prep grad Paul Rudolph, who scored four times for the Cardinal Friday, pulled the Cardinal even with 3:26 left in the third period and then broke the tie with 59 seconds left. Alex Bowen converted a penalty shot 41 seconds later to help break the game open.
Bret Bonanni scored two of his five goals 43 seconds apart in the fourth quarter to put the Cardinal up 10-6, while goalie Drew Holland and the Cardinal defense held the 49ers scoreless over the final 15:01 to seal the win.
Holland ended the contest with a season-high 16 saves. Along with the nine combined goals from Bonanni and Rudolph, Stanford also got scores from Bowen, BJ Churnside and Forrest Watkins.
The Cardinal extended its season-best winning streak to 10 games, and hit the 20-win mark for the first time since going 21-4 in 2009.
Friday's contest was very tight between the teams into the third quarter, as they traded the lead three times and were tied six times. Neither side led by more than a goal until Bowen's penalty put the Cardinal up 8-6.
Jordan Burgess recorded a team-high 19 kills, Inky Ajanaku and Rachel Williams each added 15 kills and No. 3 Stanford beat visiting California, 25-16, 22-25, 25-17, 25-21, in the regular season finale for both teams on Sunday.
The Cardinal (17-3, 24-5) finished second in the Pac-12 Conference, a game behind Washington and a game ahead of USC. Oregon finished fourth, followed by Cal and Arizona in a fifth-place tie, Colorado and Utah in a tie for seventh and Arizona State in ninth. UCLA, Washington State and Oregon State finished as the bottom three.
The NCAA selection committee will reveal its choices for the 64-team field and host schools for the first two rounds on Sunday during the selection show on ESPNU at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
It's an interesting year for the Pac-12, with 11 schools currently ranked among the top 65 in the RPI ratings. The Cougars and Buffaloes are iffy, at 65 and 54 respectively. Eight other teams can make solid cases for entrance, though UCLA (42) and Arizona State (48) are not locks.
Colorado has a win over Washington (No. 3) and is tied with Utah (No. 26) for seventh in the conference standings. The Utes will likely move up after beating the Bruins (No. 42) on Friday.
In addition to Washington, USC (6), Stanford (7), Arizona (24), Oregon (25), Utah and California (30) are almost certain to get into the tournament.
The Cardinal, which won its ninth straight and 11 of 12 overall, doesn't have to worry, and will likely host the first two rounds next weekend.
Burgess, who also had 10 digs, matched her career high in kills as Stanford came back from a second set loss to roar past the Golden Bears.
Williams hit better than .400 for the sixth time, and the third in four matches. She finished at .412 against Cal.
Ajanaku matched her season-high for kills, recording 15 for the second consecutive match. She actually lowered her overall hitting percentage by finishing at .417. She entered the contest with a .432 hitting percentage, eighth in the nation, a spot behind senior teammate Carly Wopat.
Madi Bugg recorded 60 assists in four sets, improving her overall average of 11.35 per set, 10th in the nation.
Brittany Howard added 11 kills and 11 digs while Kyle Gilbert recorded 24 digs.