For four quarters of regulation play Sunday, Pepperdine goalie Merrill Moses stopped most of what third-ranked Stanford could throw at him. He had made 15 saves, more than a few of the spectacular variety, including three against point-blank shots on breakaways.
So the sixth-ranked Waves had to be feeling pretty good about their chances of upsetting the Cardinal and winning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation water polo tournament when Peter Joseph's two-point goal gave them an 8-6 lead with 4 1/2 minutes of overtime remaining.
Maybe too good. . . .
Stanford pulled to within a goal on a fastbreak with 18 seconds left in the first of the two three-minute overtime periods and then Arturo Rodelo and Layne Beaubien fired back-to-back two-point missiles past Moses in the second overtime to propel Stanford to an 11-8 victory at Newport Harbor High.
"Merrill had played such a great game," Stanford Coach Dante Dettamanti said, "I think they figured he was going to stop everything and they were a little slow getting out to cover."
Stanford (20-6) joins UMass, UC San Diego and USC (23-3)--which will be awarded the one at-large berth today--in the NCAA championships Friday and Sunday at Corona del Mar High.
"It was weird," Pepperdine Coach Terry Schroeder said. "There were hardly any two-pointers in the whole tournament and then we get three in overtime. We got this far because we have the best goalie in the country, but I think that first one hurt him a little.
"He was a little down, but they had worn us down and we weren't as quick defensively. Stanford has some great outside shooters and you just can't give them than long of a look at the cage."
Stanford, which led, 2-0, after the first quarter, needed a lucky goal with 2:35 left in the fourth quarter to tie the score, 6-6, in regulation. Tournament most valuable player Brian Heifferon's close-in shot was blocked by Moses, but the ball popped up in front of the net and Andy Walburger tipped it in.
And the Cardinal had to rally again after Joseph's two-pointer in overtime.
Rodelo, a senior from Mexico City, was eight meters straight out when he rose up and flung the game-winner into the high corner of the net with 2 minutes 31 seconds left in overtime. Less than a minute later, Beaubien, who had seven points in the game, gave the Cardinal a three-point cushion with the exact same shot.
"I think they were concentrating on covering the hole man a little too much, because I had a really good look," Rodelo said. "We've played against Moses a lot and we know how good he is. It was a very defensive game for four quarters and then we found ourselves in a place where he had to shoot or lose."
In other MPSF tournament action:
USC 12, UC Irvine 9--Ryan Bailey, held scoreless Saturday by Pepperdine, rebounded to score eight goals in his final game for Irvine. But the Anteaters still came up short in the third-place game. It tied Bailey's best performance of the season--he scored eight against UC Santa Barbara Nov. 1--and gave him 101 goals for the year. "I set some goals this year and didn't reach some," he said. "We didn't win this tournament or the NCAA title, but I had a pretty good year."
California 7, UCLA 6--Jerry Smith scored both of his goals in overtime as the Golden Bears beat the second-ranked Bruins in the fifth-place game. Cal goalie Peter Kiefer had 12 saves.
Long Beach State 9, Pacific 8--Jeff Colyer scored five goals, including the game-winner with 1:42 left in the game.