After crushing San Francisco in a 3-0 victory last Friday, No. 8 Stanford men’s soccer (9-2-2, 2-1-2 Pac-12) will begin the second half of its Pac-12 conference schedule by traveling to Southern California to take on the No. 1 UCLA Bruins (10-3-3, 5-1-1).
“They’ve got a good passing team, good on the attack, but we’re ready for it,” said sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Epstein. “We’re pretty confident. We’ve been playing these guys for a long time, so we know what they’re going to bring.”
Stanford has been off to a good start, with this 2014 season being its best season start since 2002. Last Monday, the Cardinal tied rival Cal in a 1-1 draw; however, Stanford outshot California 35-16, suggesting that multiple opportunities to win were made but were just not clinched. On Friday, Stanford asserted its dominance by closing out the non-conference portion of its schedule in a 3-0 landslide over the University of San Francisco Dons with senior captain right fullback Jimmy Callinan scoring his first career goal against USF.
“Going into the second half of Pac-12, we want to be ready,” Callinan said. “We definitely have a good chance of doing well, and if we get the results that we need, then we can win. This game is just being confident that we can play against any team in the country, and we’ve played [UCLA] before, and we know that we can play well against them.”
The 1-1 draw in double overtime earlier this season on Oct. 12 between Stanford and UCLA was not indicative of the performance of the game. With a total of 28 shots, the Cardinal continually held possession of the ball, putting pressure on UCLA goalkeeper Earl Edwards, Jr., but the only problem was finding the back of the goal. The only Stanford goal scored was by senior forward Zach Batteer with an assist from freshman midfielder Corey Baird in the 56th minute. The talent and ability on the team is apparent, but with this upcoming game, the Cardinal need to hone in on taking advantage of all scoring prospects.
“The last game, we did so much right,” said head coach Jeremy Gunn. “It was a great game against a very good team. We were successful in creating the majority of good chances. They had chances to win the game, and so did we. We don’t have to change too much. We just have to continue like always, just trying to execute in the goal areas.”
Although Stanford played without the services of sophomore striker Jordan Morris, who had missed the previous match due to obligations to the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team, the Bruins will have their hands full with the addition of Morris on the field this Thursday. Morris has had 11 assists in his 31 career games, which is double that of any current Cardinal player.
“We prepare the same way for each game,” Callinan said. “Every single week, we do the same things leading up to the game. We scout the opponent. We know a little bit more about them this time. We know their tendencies, so we’re trying to work on that throughout practice, so we’re working on trying to stop their [UCLA] tendencies, so we’ll be well prepared.”
The game, which will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks, will be played tonight at 8 p.m. in Westwood.
Contact Elizabeth Trinh at entrinh ‘at’ stanford.edu.