The Stanford men’s soccer team has proven that when push comes to shove, it can get things done. Faced with the despairing reality that a loss to UC-Santa Barbara would mean the end to their hopes for a postseason run in the NCAA tournament, the Cardinal fought until an overtime golden goal from senior Adam Jahn in the 96th minute proved the final source of salvation for a team in need of a win.
The 1-0 win against the Gauchos–at one time the No. 3 team in the country–is the second time that Stanford has knocked off a ranked team on the road this year after defeating then-No. 11 UC-Irvine on the road in the preseason. The overtime win devastated the UCSB team on their senior night, making up for Stanford’s loss to Washington on their own senior night.
“At that point, things weren’t looking too good; we were out of the Pac-12 running, but we just had to stay confident,” Jahn said about the team’s mental state after the loss to Washington.
Jahn is one of four seniors on the team, commended by head coach Jeremy Gunn for being a tremendous group that “set a great standard for the team [during the game].”
Within the first five minutes of the game, the Cardinal threatened the Gauchos with two corner kicks, neither of which yielded an early goal. Three early shots by the Stanford men that missed just wide were additional evidence of the determination of the team as the Cardinal tried to take advantage of the slow UCSB start. The Gauchos chose not to field their starting goalkeeper, Austin Mansker, in favor of their No. 2 keeper Andre Grandt, a factor that noticeably unsettled the UCSB team’s usual confidence.
As the game continued, however, UCSB fell into rhythm, spreading the field with their strategic long passes. The UCSB team dominated in terms of possession, frustrating the Cardinal defenders, who, nevertheless, managed to maintain their cool patience. According to Jahn, the boys had previously struggled in the shift from defense to offense.
But against the Gauchos, the Stanford defenders showed considerable restraint that made the transition after winning the ball from UCSB players smooth and effective. The contribution of Stanford goalkeeper Drew Hutchins, who racked up his fifth clean sheet of the season, was immeasurable. In the 35th minute, off a corner kick from freshman Aaron Kovar, junior midfield J.J. Koval managed to head the ball on frame, but was not able to convert as the ball sailed over the crossbar.
Although Stanford matched UCSB nine for nine in the shot count in the first half, UCSB outshot the Cardinal 7-3 in the second half, four of the shots coming from leading UCSB senior Peter McGlynn. (In the Gauchos loss on Sunday night, McGlynn was reportedly arrested on the field for assaulting an official after drawing a red card in overtime.)
The best chance for UCSB came with less than 30 seconds left in regulation time, when player Dion Acoff beat several Stanford defenders to cut toward the box and fired a shot. The shot by Acoff was heart-stopping, but the save by Hutchins as he deftly deflected the ball wide was even more so.
In Stanford’s first chance in overtime, sophomore Jimmy Callinan skillfully found Adam Jahn at the far post with his cross, leading to the game-winning goal. Jahn remarked, “Throughout the game, we just kept knocking on the door, and it finally came through.”
Amid the ecstasy and excitement the players felt as Jahn’s header cross the goal line, there were definite feelings of relief as well. The win brings the Cardinal back to an even record, now at 7-7-1, but it also boosts the team before their final three games of the regular season.
This Thursday the team travels to Los Angeles to face UCLA, a team that has won four NCAA championships and is currently ranked seventh in national rankings. The Stanford team has never won at UCLA, so the boys have a formidable challenge ahead of them.