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Cardinal suffer tough loss to No. 5 Huskies

(JIM SHORIN/stanfordphoto.com)

The No. 18 Stanford men’s soccer team (7-2, 1-1) played the second match of their two-game road trip on Sunday night, taking on the No. 5 Washington Huskies at Husky Soccer Stadium. Going into the match, the Card possessed the longest active winning streak in the NCAA at seven games, while the Dawgs themselves had won six on the trot. In addition to three points for the win, the victor in this contest would sit alone atop the Pac-12 table with a perfect six points from two conference matches. The Cardinal ultimately lost 3-1 to the Huskies.

(JIM SHORIN/stanfordphoto.com)
Sophomore forward Jordan Morris (above) did all he could to take matters in his own hands in the second half against Washington with Stanford down late, but his efforts fell short, as did the Cardinal. (JIM SHORIN/stanfordphoto.com)

Stanford came out the gate pressing high up the pitch, creating its first shot within a minute of kickoff. The dogged determination of the Cardinal midfield, led by junior Ty Thompson, resulted in plenty of possession time for the Cardinal early. In attack, head coach Jeremy Gunn’s men sought to exploit the wicked pace of sophomore Jordan Morris, as intricate linking passes were shirked for long balls over the top.

Morris, a native of Seattle suburb Mercer Island, enjoyed a proverbial homecoming marked by an ovation from the UW support before kickoff.

Stanford continued to create chances early, as Zach Batteer and Corey Baird registered attempts on goal within the first 10 minutes.

By the 15th minute, it seemed as if the air had been truly taken out of the ball as both sides began to retreat into defense and feel each other out. Neither side was enterprising in attack, as each preferred to shadow box to see if the opponent might tip its hand.

On 20 minutes, Thompson continued his stellar run of form, marauding into the opposition box off of a one-two from Batteer. Sandwiched by two Husky defenders, Thompson went down and raised his hands, shouting for a penalty. The referee appeared uninterested and the game continued on. While the defenders made no contact with ball, Thompson may have gone down a little easily — it could have gone either way.

From there, Washington began to flex its offensive muscles through senior striker Darwin Jones. The physical Seattle Sounders Academy product kept the Cardinal defense busy the entire night, using his physicality and pace to create chances.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 35th minute when Husky junior midfielder James Moberg played a short corner from the left side to a slashing Steven Wright. The sophomore took the pass the first time, curling a scintillating left-footed strike into the far corner.

This goal seemed to further ignite the Husky attack, as the advantage was doubled two minutes later. Moberg again delivered quality service from a set piece, this time finding the head of an unmarked Mason Robertson.

Jones came close to killing off the game before on 41 minutes, driving a low free kick from 25 yards out off the left post.

The Cardinal were handed a lifeline on the stroke of halftime, as substitute Marshall Glover forced a Husky defender into handling the ball in the box. Junior captain Brandon Vincent calmly slotted the penalty to the right of the keeper to halve the deficit.

Gunn’s squad came out a changed squad in the second half, quickly taking the initiative. Morris really began to get involved in the match, dropping slightly deeper to pick up the ball. His efforts, while enterprising, lacked the incisiveness necessary to break down the stout Husky defense.

In the 61st minute, Washington senior Andy Thoma found himself with acres of space, and set off on a careening run down the left wing. He was swiftly stood up and dispossessed by the Cardinal back line, only to see the ball fall for Jones. The ball sat up well for the Mt. Rainier High School man, who inflicted the knockout blow on the Cardinal. Slightly deflected, the shot still maintained enough power to loop over an outstretched Andrew Epstein, who had an otherwise above-average outing between the sticks.

The last quarter of the game was marked by two or three slaloming runs from Morris, who sought to take matters into his own hands. His ability on the ball showed all in attendance why he has been identified as one for the future with Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. National Team. The 82nd minute saw the sophomore beat three defenders and laser a left-footed strike onto the bar, inducing visible frustration from the sophomore so desperate to perform in his hometown.

Morris’ efforts were to be all for naught, as the Cardinal lacked the ultimate quality to find the back of the net. Washington was the better side for the majority of the match, aside from a few moments of brilliance from Morris.

The Cardinal stay on three points in the Pac-12, while the Huskies will begin the week as table-toppers.

Gunn’s men will next be in action on Thursday, as they begin a three-match home stand with a 6 p.m. kickoff against San Diego State.

Contact Will Drinkwater at willydri ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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