A weeklong break from Pac-12 play afforded the No. 11 Stanford men’s soccer team an opportunity to rekindle the Derby on the Peninsula against the University of San Francisco Dons. It was to be the 41st meeting between the two Bay Area sides, with USF leading the all-time series 19 wins to 12 and the six remaining matches ending in a draw. Friday night’s contest was no such stalemate, as the Cardinal cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory.
The first five or 10 minutes of the match could only be characterized as cagey, as both outfits sought to get spells of possession and assess the opposition. The Dons avoided attacking in favor of a more defensive formation, with one striker and three central midfielders, while head coach Jeremy Gunn made no changes from his starting 11 that drew Cal on October 20th, a sign that the Card’s manager was taking no risks against the local opponents.
USF was still enterprising in its attack, however, and created the first real chance of the match in the 28th minute, as senior playmaker Miguel Aguilar curled a shot just wide of the top corner.
The 31st minute saw the USF keeper Chase Hauser play a seemingly routine goal kick to his center back, who was caught unawares and pick-pocketed by Stanford senior striker Zach Batteer. With only the keeper the beat, the Card seemed assured of a goal, but Hauser made himself big and was able to get a hand on the first shot. The rebound fell kindly to Batteer, who skipped around the keeper and fired on goal again. USF’s German import Joshua Smith had made a brilliant recovery run and attempted to block the second Batteer effort, but the ball struck his arm. Referee Juan Guzman was given no choice but to show the red card and award the penalty, leaving the Dons to play the last hour with 10 men.
Skipper and team-leading scorer, junior Brandon Vincent calmly slotted the ensuing penalty shot away from 12 yards, sending the keeper the wrong way. It was the left back’s sixth goal on the year.
The Card kept the pressure on for the rest of the first half, with a pair of Foster Langsdorf efforts going begging.
A man down, the home side Dons were clearly overmatched, and Stanford looked to have the game comfortably in the bag.
Stanford doubled their advantage in the 54th, with Langsdorf crossing a ball from the top of the box to the back post for senior forward Eric Verso, who took the ball out of the air first time and put it on a platter for a marauding senior defender Jimmy Callinan, who found the back of the net from five yards out.
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Sophomore striker Jordan Morris sealed the win in the 70th minute off an assist from Batteer. Morris’ strike partner delivered a superbly-lofted ball over the Dons’ backline, and Morris was able to take his first touch out of the air and around the keeper, leaving him a simple pass into the net to make it 3-0.
The Cardinal men were unlucky not to add to their tally in the 78th minute, where a cross and header combination was mysteriously negated on a questionable offsides call.
The nature of the second half allowed Stanford’s Gunn to give some younger players some experience, as he fielded a total of 21 players in the match. Most notably, reserve keeper Nico Corti replaced sophomore Andrew Epstein for the final 10 minutes.
In other pertinent team news, freshman midfielder Foster Langsdorf went off injured just past the hour mark, and could face a race against time to be fit enough for the next match.
All in all, it was a comfortable win for the Cardinal. While the match was perhaps altered by the early red card, the Dons never really posed much of a sustained threat.
Stanford will return to Pac-12 play on Thursday night in Westwood against the league leaders UCLA.
Contact Will Drinkwater at willydri ‘at’ stanford.edu.