After seeing its eight-game win streak snapped with a tie against No. 17 Washington (5-2-5, 1-1-2 Pac-12) on Friday, the No. 3 Stanford men’s soccer team (9-1-1, 2-0-1) refused to settle for anything short of a victory in its next game, taking charge in a dominant 3-0 victory against No. 16 Oregon State (7-4-1, 2-1-1) on Sunday.
The Cardinal remain undefeated in their past 10 games, in their first three games of Pac-12 play and in all their matchups against ranked opponents this season. The team also moves into first place in conference standings and is the only squad to not have lost a Pac-12 game so far.
In the first of the team’s two top-20 matchups, both teams played excellent soccer, and neither side conceded a goal as the game ended in a scoreless draw after double overtime.
Stanford’s offense started off a bit slow in the first half, facing a tough Washington backline that only allowed it 6 shots, tied for second-fewest shots the team has attempted at half so far this season.
The Cardinal eventually picked up their offensive play in the second half and in both overtimes, notching 22 more shots for a total of 28 on the game, the highest shot total the team has had since October 2014. Despite their plethora of opportunities, the Cardinal simply couldn’t convert.
“It’s frustrating for us. We had so many chances,” senior defender and co-captain Brandon Vincent said. “Their goalkeeper made a lot of good saves, credit to him.”
While Vincent was dissatisfied with the team’s inability to find the back of the net, head coach Jeremy Gunn praised his side’s performance.
“I thought we played excellent. In the first 20 minutes, I think they whipped a lot of balls at us, but after that, it was all us,” he said. “I was really pleased with how we played, and I thought we attacked great.”
While Stanford had more scoring opportunities and seemed to dominate possession, particularly after the intermission, the Huskies challenged the Stanford defense and junior goalie Andrew Epstein more than others had for most of the season.
Coming into the game, Epstein averaged 1.78 saves per game, best for second-lowest in the nation. In the Washington game alone, the goalie had to make 4 saves off 10 shots, 4 of which were on goal. Yet his strong performance in both games this weekend not only added two more clean sheets to the team’s total of seven on the year — tying its total from the entire 2014 season — but it also moved him up to sixth in the nation in goals against average, with .441.
While Washington’s defense — which came into Friday’s game having posted seven shutouts in 10 games and having only allowed 7 goals all season — was solid, junior goalie Ryan Herman seemed to be the most troublesome for the Cardinal. The keeper used his 6’7” frame to his advantage and posted 11 saves on the night.
After just one day’s rest, Stanford finally caught stride on Sunday as it topped No. 17 Oregon State 3 goals to none.
Freshman midfielder Amir Bashti netted his first collegiate goal with about one minute left before half to give Stanford the lead heading into the locker room. Prior to that goal, the Cardinal possessed the ball in the Beaver’s defensive third for most of the half, but similarly to the Washington game two days before they couldn’t quite put one through despite creating a flurry of chances.
Vincent admitted that the Beavers’ defensive 4-5-1 formation frustrated the Cardinal at first.
“When we’re frustrated, we just try to calm each other down, make sure we move on to the next play,” he said. “We know if we keep going at them and going at them, we’ll eventually crack them down.”
Stanford came out aggressively in the second half and got two shots on goal in the first five minutes. The pressure earned the Cardinal a penalty kick at the 53rd minute, which Vincent buried to essentially seal the game.
Stanford’s offense didn’t stop there, however; not even five minutes after Vincent’s goal, fifth-year senior midfielder Eric Verso raced up the right side and floated the ball back over to the left side, right inside the 6-yard box. Sophomore midfielder Sam Werner chipped it back towards the center of the box, where sophomore forward Foster Langsdorf was waiting. Langsdorf headed the ball into the bottom right corner to give Stanford a 3-0 advantage on his fourth goal of the season, tied for the team-high alongside junior forward Jordan Morris’ 4 goals.
The Cardinal now have a few days of rest before they face another double header in the coming weekend. Stanford will travel to Southern California to face the UCLA Bruins on Friday night and San Diego State on Sunday morning.
Contact Irving Rodriguez at irodriguez ‘at’ stanford.edu and Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.