Stockton, Calif. - Seniors Goran Tomasevic, Kevin Oliveira and Balazs Erdelyi each scored three goals as No. 5 Pacific downed No. 3 Stanford, 14-12, in front of a packed house of 758 at Chris Kjeldsen Pool Sunday.
Erdelyi broke a 2-2 tie in the first quarter and after one of senior Alex Malkis' 14 saves, the Tigers held the lead for the final 28:39 of their MPSF opener. Junior Alex Obert and sophomore Aleksandar Petrovic each chipped in a pair of goals while Kristian Laczkovics added a goal for Pacific.
Pacific improves to 9-1 on the season and 1-0 in MPSF play, while dropping Stanford to 7-2 on the year, and 0-1 in conference. The Tigers sought revenge for their lone loss of the season, an 8-7 overtime decision to the Cardinal in the NorCal quarterfinals.
"This was a shootout today. It was an exciting game to watch and an exciting game to play," head coach James Graham said. "They have some offensive weapons and so do we. I thought we did a great job being in control at the end of the game, keeping our composure. And our goalie stepped up big. Overall, I'm really happy with our team effort today."
The Tigers posted a 6-2 first quarter, as Oliveira, Tomasevic and Erdely each tallied two goals. Stanford opened the scoring with a goal from Bret Bonanni, before Oliveira answered with a power play goal just 19 seconds later. Bonani tallied again for a 2-1 lead on a lob shot, but Erdelyi fed Tomasevic for the equalizer.
Erdelyi put Pacific in front with his first goal of the day, and Malkis then came up with a save while the Tigers were shorthanded following an exclusion.
"It's all about momentum. After that, I thought it was our game," Malkis said. "It's an amazing feeling. We've been talking about beating big teams. We knew we could do it."
Erdelyi scored on the other end for a 4-2 lead and the Tigers never looked back.
A pair of quick inside passes from Erdelyi to junior Sean Grady to Tomasevic led to a short distance shot into the open net for a 5-2 Tiger advantage, and Oliveira closed the half with a long goal just before the shot clock expired with three seconds left in the period.
In the second quarter, Tomasevic opened the scoring off a feed from Erdelyi, but Bonani posted a pair of goals to cut the margin to 7-4. Petrovic found the back of the net from distance to restore a four-goal lead, but Stanford's Forrest Watkins snuck a goal inside the right post with 1:07 left before half to cut the gap to a 8-5 Pacific lead.
Obert posted the Tigers' first two goals of the second half, and Pacific stretched the lead to 11-7 on Oliveira;s goal off the keeper's hands. Stanford's Forrest Watkins struck again for two goals to close the quarter and bring the Cardinal within 12-10 at the end of the third quarter.
After Watkins' scored again from a sharp angle inside the near post, Petrovic ripped a shot from distance to restore a two-goal margin and Erdelyi converted a penalty shot underneath the cross bar.
The Tigers salted away the clock, leaving Stanford without time to make up the three goal gap. Alex Bowen provided the final goal with six seconds left for the Cardinal.
The crowd of 758 was the largest for a Pacific men's water polo match.
"I thank everyone who came out today, that was just incredible. It means so much to us and just helps us out a lot," Erdelyi said after the match.
"This was hands down the best atmosphere I've been a part of in my six years here," Graham added. "The crowd came out in force, it was loud, it was rowdy. This is the kind of atmosphere you want to play in,"
Pacific is back in action on October 5 at No. 4 Cal at 10:30 am in a game that will air on the Pac-12 Network.