The best teams heat up at the best times.
Stanford men’s soccer defeated the College of Charleston 2-0 on Friday night and also beat Colgate 1-0 on Sunday afternoon to improve its record to 4-1-1 with one final match remaining before the start of Pac-12 conference play. The two victories this weekend stretched Stanford’s current winning streak to four, a feat last achieved in September 2010.
“I’d say it definitely helps our confidence,” said sophomore forward Adrian Alabi. “We’re now on a four-game win streak doing a lot of the right things so we just have to keep it up.”
On Friday night, a brace from junior forward Zach Batteer paved the way as the Cardinal coasted to a comfortable victory in front of a freshman-led crowd. Only two minutes into the match, sophomore midfielder Aaron Kovar’s corner was headed towards the back post by senior defender Matt Taylor where Batteer rose up and pounded it home. In the 61st minute, forward Jordan Morris sped past defenders on the left side and sent a perfect pass over the middle to Batteer, who slotted it home for his second of the night.
Batteer’s two goals brought his season total up to a team-leading four. Cardinal senior keeper Drew Hutchins made several spectacular saves late in the match and throughout the entire game to preserve the clean sheet.
Last season, the College of Charleston won a home match against the Cardinal 2-1 on an overtime penalty kick. This time, the Cardinal established early that it would be the aggressor and dictated the flow of the game. Stanford certainly had its revenge on Charleston with the 2-0 victory on its home turf.
In Sunday’s match against Colgate, the memories of a slow start to the game were quickly wiped away by a dominant performance in the second half. Sophomore midfielder Eric Verso notched his second goal of the season as he knocked a ball that was bouncing around in the box into the back of the net after a corner kick in the 47th minute. The goal would prove to be the difference in the game as Colgate was unable to respond. The Raiders only managed five shots, and Hutchins turned them all away to earn his third shutout of the year.
Kovar, the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, proved to be an excellent threat coming forward on the left side for the Cardinal in both games, earning an assist on the corner kick against Charleston and providing threatening crosses into the box in both contests.
The team will travel to UC-Santa Barbara Friday for the final game before the start of a brutal Pac-12 schedule that includes multiple matches against fourth-ranked California, sixth-ranked Washington and 11th-ranked UCLA. The other opponents — Oregon State and San Diego State — are no pushovers either.
With the Cardinal heating up at the most opportune time, hopes are high that it will be able to compete for the Pac-12 title. An early test against Washington will be a good chance to evaluate the Cardinal’s early season performances and validate — or diminish — any title ambitions.
Stanford travels to play UC-Santa Barbara on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. before returning home to host the Huskies on Oct. 3 in a match that will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.