After enduring a tough 3-0 loss to California in the Pac-10 opener, the Stanford men’s soccer team (4-5-0, 0-1-0 Pac-10) has a chance to get back on top with a road trip through the Pacific Northwest this weekend. First up on Friday night is a game against Washington (6-3-1, 0-2-0) in Seattle, followed by a short ride down to Corvallis, Ore. to face Oregon State (6-3-0, 1-1-0) Sunday afternoon.
Head coach Bret Simon sees the time away from the Farm as an opportunity to quickly get back in the win column.
“It’s a great chance for us to regroup on the road,” he said. “The worst thing is to not have anyone to play, so I think we are all looking forward to the trip. We usually take this trip later in the fall, so an early chance to compete with some of our rival teams has all the guys excited.”
The Huskies saw their six-game win streak evaporate this past weekend as they dropped two tough matches to No. 16 UCLA and No. 25 San Diego State, the latter game ending 4-3 in double overtime.
The Cardinal’s defense will be hard-pressed to stop Washington sparkplug Brent Richards. The junior forward has scored six goals and tallied 15 points in just 10 games this season after garnering Second Team All-Pac-10 honors last year.
Richards, who led the Pac-10 in shots last season, is expected to test whoever replaces redshirt freshman Jason Dodson in goal for Stanford. Dodson suffered a dislocated shoulder while making a save against Cal and had an MRI Sunday that found no structural damage.
Freshman Drew Hutchins replaced Dodson in goal against Cal, but redshirt freshman Galen Perkins is slated to get his first career start Friday night against Washington. According to Simon, all three backup goalies had a great week of practice, giving the coaching staff additional confidence that Dodson’s injury will not be a crippling blow.
While the team is disappointed about losing its starting goalie just as he had begun to find his groove between the posts, as sophomore Hunter Gorskie said, “injuries are a part of the game. It’s a shame because [Dodson] has been at the top of his game recently, but now the next guy just has to step up.”
Perkins will have plenty of support in front of him, including senior defender and captain Bobby Warshaw, who was named yesterday as one of 10 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award finalists.
Simon was very pleased to hear the news.
“It’s a wonderful achievement,” he said. “It’s great to see the respect that the coaches and players have around the country for him. It is very well-deserved.”
Warshaw, who required stitches on the sideline for a cut suffered against Cal, will also have his hands full against Oregon State’s potent offense on Sunday.
Senior forward Travis Sanchez has scored four goals in his past five games for the Beavers, who have yet to be shut out in nine games this year. OSU split this past weekend’s games in southern California, earning a tight victory against San Diego State before falling at UCLA 4-1.
Neither Washington nor Oregon State will be an easy opponent, but the players stressed that in the end, the team has to focus on playing its game.
“Washington and Oregon State are good teams, but it’s really about us,” Warshaw said. “Every team we play is going to present a challenge, but if we go out and play well and execute the game plan, we should win. To a certain extent, the biggest challenge is ourselves.”
Gorskie, who was disappointed with the way the team performed against Cal, echoed Warshaw’s comments.
“We have to just play our game,” he said. “We need to be aggressive like we usually are and pay attention to detail. The rest is going to take care of itself.
“This past game is a bit of a wake-up call. But at the same time, it’s good for us and I’m confident that we are going to be winning a lot of games going forward.”
Confidence seems to be the key word for the Cardinal, which is looking to regain the good form that allowed it to outscore opponents 9-1 during its recent four-game win streak to close non-conference play.
Kickoff against Washington is at 7 p.m. at Husky Soccer Stadium, followed by the 1 p.m. match against Oregon State on Sunday.