No. 5 Pacific Men's Water Polo Plays Host To No. 3 Stanford Sunday
No. 5 Pacific plays host to No. 3 Stanford in men's water polo on Sunday at noon in the MPSF conference opener and a rematch of the NorCal quarterfinals.
The Tigers look to avenge their lone loss of the season, an 8-7 overtime contest which resulted in Pacific (8-1) and Stanford (7-1) swapping spots in the polls. Tigers senior goalkeeper Alex Malkis made a season-high 19 saves in the NorCal quarterfinals against Stanford, keeping the score tight.
"This is obviously a big game, it's our conference opener and we just played Stanford last week at NorCal's in one of the most exciting games of the tournament. We're looking forward to 'continuing' that game here at home," head coach James Graham said. "This year, everyone is so close at the top of the MPSF. We played a lot of one-goal games at the NorCal Tournament and everyone is neck and neck."
The NorCal tournament featured five games pitting top five teams against each other, with four being decided by one goal, and the other a two-goal victory by Stanford over Cal. Two of the games went to overtime.
The tournament also reshuffled the top five of the polls, with then No. 3 Pacific turning in a 3-1 weekend, but finishing fifth. Stanford, with a 3-1 weekend, moved from fifth to third. UCLA handed then No. 1 USC its first loss to win the tournament with a 4-0 weekend and take over the top spot and drop the Trojans to second in this week's poll. Cal finished 2-2 on the weekend, in fourth place and settled into the No. 4 ranking.
Pacific rebounded from the loss to Stanford by blitzing No. 10 Pepperdine, 21-6, and taking fifth place with a win over No. 6 UC Santa Barbara in another tight contest.
Seniors Balazs Erdelyi (33 goals) and Goran Tomasevic (28 goals) have paced Pacific offensively, with junior Alex Obert adding 18 and senior Kevin Oliveira chipping in 14.
The Tigers will be playing their second game of the season at Chris Kjeldsen Pool, their first since a season-opening win on September 7 against Santa Clara.
"We've been working on a few things in practice this week, like making better decisions on offense and tightening up our defense," Graham continued. "We're also excited to be back home. We have some new improvements to the pool and it's pretty good. We are streaming video of our games live with high-quality. And we're excited to have all the Tigers fans here for the match. We expect it will get packed."