NorCal Invitational brings together ex-local water polo standouts
It will be a reunion of sorts for a number of former Palo Alto and Gunn high athletes when the nation's finest water polo teams meet at Stanford's deGuerre Pool this weekend for the annual NorCal Invitational.
Top-ranked Stanford's roster includes Gunn graduates Eric Eisenhardt and Michael Rosenthal, plus former Menlo-Atherton High standout Murray McLachlan.
Third-ranked Cal, which handed Stanford its first loss of the season last weekend (12-11 in overtime), has senior All-America goalie Sean Nolan from Palo Alto, as well as ex-Viking Stuart Curyea.
UCLA, ranked fifth nationally, has Gunn grad Corbin Graham plus ex-Paly standouts Dave Dowdney (sophomore goalie), Steve Covec and Zach Fisher, both freshmen.
Stanford, which opened its home season Thursday against No. 8 UC Santa Barbara and plays No. 10 Long Beach State today at 3 p.m., will face those same two teams in the tournament--playing UCSB on Saturday at 11 a.m. and then Long Beach at 3 p.m.
The Cardinal, which captured the NCAA title last season, is strengthened by the recent return of junior Jeremy Laster, who missed nearly the first month of the season while competing for the U.S. in the World Championships in Rome. Laster led the team in scoring last season with 48 goals.
Twelve matches will be held each day, beginning at 7 a.m. and running through 7 p.m.
The tournament will feature 11 nationally ranked teams. In addition to Stanford, Cal, UCLA, UCSB and Long Beach, others entered include No. 2 USC, No. 4 Pacific, No. 6 Pepperdine, No. 7 UC Irvine, No. 12 Chaminade, No. 15 UC Davis and No. 16 UC San Diego.
The top-ranked Cardinal (9-0) is on the road this weekend for Pacific-10 Conference matches at Oregon State (0-4) tonight and Oregon (0-4) on Saturday. Stanford improved to 3-0 in the conference by holding off a stubborn Cal squad on Tuesday, 15-11, 16-14, 10-15, 15-5.
For Stanford, it was only the second time this season it had lost a game.
The Cardinal trailed in the opening game, nearly lost the second, hit just .034 while losing the third, before finally taking charge in the fourth game.
"We were bad in every phase," Cardinal coach Don Shaw said. "We need to wake up--we haven't practiced well, and it's going to get tough from here on out."
Said Stanford freshman Kristin Folkl, who led the team with 21 kills, 17 digs and a .469 hitting percentage: "We had no fire, and it showed."
Junior Cary Wendell added 36 assists and 15 digs plus hit .438 as Stanford hit .321 for the match--including .550 in the fourth game.
Former Stanford All-Americas Julie Foudy and Sarah Rafanelli will lead a team of more than 40 former Cardinal players who will compete Sunday in an alumni match on Maloney Field at 9 a.m.
Foudy, a 1991 World Cup champion team member, had all her scoring records at Stanford broken by Rafanelli, now an assistant coach at Stanford. Foudy now is the co-captain of the U.S. National Team that will compete in the 1995 women's World Cup.
Stanford, ranked fourth nationally, had junior Jessica Fischer selected to Soccer America's national "Women's Team of the Week" for her part in Stanford's wins over Pacific and Cal last week.
Stanford opens its home season today by playing host to Rhode Island at 2 p.m. in the second game of the Reebok/Cardinal Classic on Maloney Field.
The Cardinal (1-6-1) will play Akron on Sunday at 2 p.m., with USF playing Rhode Island at noon.
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