Sports


Pingree saves Stanford in water polo upset over USC

 

By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

Brian Pingree acknowledged Saturday's game was more of a blur than anything. He was so focused he'll need to watch game film to appreciate how unbelievably well he played in Stanford's upset of visiting USC, 5-3, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men's water polo contest.

Pingree recorded 14 saves in goal, Jeffrey Schwimer scored twice and the sixth-ranked Cardinal (1-0, 7-4) ended six years of frustration against the top-ranked and defending national champion Trojans (1-1, 15-1), who had their 18-game winning streak, dating to last year, snapped.

"We knew we were good enough to play a great game against a great team," Stanford coach John Vargas said. "We needed everybody, and I mean everybody, to play well. Brian played a heck of a game and we needed him to step up."

Stanford also beat USC for the first time since 2004, a span of 17 competitive, yet ultimately futile, matches.

"We can play with anybody; that's pretty clear," Pingree said moments after stopping a penalty shot to put an exclamation point on his performance. "We just have to keep bringing the same intensity every game."

The Cardinal still have a long way to go before this season could be termed a success. After all, they've had trouble with four of the other five teams ahead of them and only four make it to the NCAA tournament.

"Right now it's all about the conference games," Vargas said. "We'll see how we set up for the conference tournament (to be held at Stanford)."

Sage Wright gave Stanford a 5-1 lead with a goal early in the fourth period, punching it in from in front of the net. The Trojans answered 15 seconds later to keep it close.

The Trojans closed to within 5-3 with 1:43 remaining to play. That's when Forrest Watkins made a critical steal that allowed the Cardinal to run the clock down to 12 seconds.

"A goalie is only as good as his defense," Pingree said. "Those guys definitely made me a better goalie."

Schwimer got the Cardinal on the board early, picking up a shot off the post and slamming it home less than three minutes into the contest.

Peter Sefton made it 2-0 with 2:38 left in the first period, skipping a shot home from the point.

After USC cut the lead in half, Schwimer added his second goal midway through the second period to make it 3-1. He took a pass from Watkins in front of the net and took advantage of the 1-on-1 with the goalie.

Sacred Heart Prep grad Paul Rudolph connected on a turnaround shot late in the third period to make 4-1 entering the final period.

Palo Alto grad Will Simon, a redshirt sophomore goalie with the Trojans, has appeared in five games this year, making 16 saves for a 3.2 saves per game average.

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