Stanford men's water polo trailed USC by one (4-3) at the half of Saturday's 9am match at Avery Aquatic Center, but gave up two quick scores at the beginning of the third quarter and succumbed to USCs pace and strength. Berliner Tobias Preuss led the Trojans with three scores, and Nicola Vavic had two in the 9-6 victory. Stanford's Alex Bowen was was held to two goals, and freshman Bret Bonnani one, as the Trojan team defense stifled the Cardinal in the second half. Goalkeeper Scott Plashton was the defensive star of the match with 16 saves for the Cardinal and kept the score within reach.
Neither squad played at the top of its form but Stanford was particularly off its game with defensive breakdowns and less-than-crisp execution of its offense. The featured matchup between USC's Vavic and Stanford's Bonanni went squarely to the former, who out-shot and -hustled the heralded Cardinal freshman. Bonanni was simply ineffective in the game with his booming shots, the first and only one of which he scored late in the fourth quarter.
The Trojans were comfortable spreading the scoring effort around among six players while Stanford was limited mainly to Bowen and Bonanni for its goals. Once USC effectively shut down those two talents the game shifted to the Trojans' favor and the Cardinal ceased to threaten.