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Men’s soccer faces familiar foes in weekend homestand

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No. 3 Stanford men’s soccer (11-1-1, 4-0-1 Pac-12) looks to continue its 12-match unbeaten streak as it returns home to face UCLA (7-6-0, 3-2-0) and San Diego State (6-5-2, 1-4-0).

(RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)
Junior forward Jordan Morris (left) returned to the Cardinal last weekend after missing three games on national team duty. Morris’ 6 goals this season have already eclipsed his total from last year (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

After beating the Bruins 2-1 and the Aztecs 3-1 last weekend, Stanford will try to top these two teams again, this time with home field advantage.

Last weekend’s trip to SoCal also marked the return of junior forward Jordan Morris. After coming back from Olympic Qualifiers for the U.S. Under-23 team, Morris electrified both games, scoring one goal in each. His go-ahead goal against UCLA helped bring the team its first road win over the Bruins since 2010. Morris has 6 goals on the season (already two more than his total from all of last year) and his value for the two upcoming matches against the same conference opponents will be undeniable.

“I’ve continued to work on my finishing,” Morris said. “I think that’s a big part of the game, so when I get my chances, hopefully I can put a few more away.

“I think going to that [Olympic Qualifying] tournament definitely gave me some confidence. Whenever you are scoring goals, no matter what level, you gain some confidence…so I felt good, and hopefully I can keep helping my team.”

The Cardinal struggled defensively against the Bruins, allowing 15 shots to Stanford’s 6. A controversial offside call by a ref negated a UCLA goal late in the second half that would have tied the game.

On how Stanford plans to improve for this weekend’s game against the Bruins, Morris said, “Against UCLA, they had a lot of the ball when we played them. We got the win, but I wouldn’t say we necessarily had the best game. We want to have the ball a bit more and dominate play. It’s hard to play teams back-to-back weekends, but it’s good because you can adjust those things.”

Following a standout performance from sophomore midfielder Corey Baird, who scored two goals in last Sunday’s game against the San Diego State Aztecs, the Cardinal will be looking for him to repeat his show. The brace was Baird’s first two goals of the season to go along with his 7 assists, tied with fifth-year senior Eric Verso’s for most on the team. Stanford is the only team in the nation that has two players with at least seven assists.

“With SDSU, we want to come out sharp and not let them get an early lead,” Baird said of the team’s goals for this coming Monday’s game against the Aztecs. Last weekend, SDSU struck early with Jereon Meefout scoring in the second minute off a rebound.

Beating the same two teams in successive weekends can be a hard feat for any team to accomplish. The Cardinal’s opponents will be better prepared, having seen the Stanford squad only a week prior. Stanford will also have to prepare again for scoring threats Abu Danladi from UCLA, who gave the Bruins their lone goal last weekend, and SDSU’s Meefout, who has 3 goals on the season. With cheering Cardinal fans behind them, it is up to a resilient Stanford team to extend its unbeaten streak from 12 to 14 this weekend.

Stanford has won at least 10 matches for the third straight season under head coach Jeremy Gunn, and as the regular season winds down with only five conference games left to play, the Stanford Cardinal are in great position to further prove themselves as the Kings of California and make a run for the NCAA College Cup.

Stanford will play UCLA on Friday, Oct. 23 at 8 p.m., followed by the San Diego State Aztecs on Monday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Both games will be played at home at Cagan Stadium and will be broadcasted on Pac-12 Networks.

 

Contact Taylor Duarte at taylor3 ‘at’ stanford.edu.