Bret Bonanni broke a tie with a goal early in the fourth quarter and Alex Bowen added two more to lift the Stanford men's water polo team to a 7-4 victory over USC on Saturday in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament at Long Beach State.
The second-ranked Cardinal (24-3) will meet the host 49ers in Sunday's championship game. Long Beach State upset No. 1 UCLA in the other semifinal.
Bowen led Stanford's attack with four goals. Bonanni added a pair and BJ Churnside also scored.
The Cardinal held the early lead but the Trojans fought back to tie it by the end of the third period. Stanford goalie Drew Holland recorded 17 saves in the contest, including all five shot he faced in the final period.
Stanford improved its chances of qualifying for the NCAA tournament by reaching the final. The Cardinal beat USC twice this season, which likely means the Trojans' long run as national champions will come to an end this year.
The winner of Sunday's contest gets the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. That means UCLA is suddenly on the bubble despite its impressive season. The Bruins beat Stanford two out of three and held the advantage against the 49ers before Saturday.
It would seem that the Bruins and Stanford have both done enough to qualify, but it won't mean anything should Long Beach State win the title.