The No. 4 Stanford men’s soccer team (12-1-2, 5-0-2 Pac-12) is headed north this weekend for a two-game in-conference road trip with a two-month long unbeaten streak, the third longest in NCAA Division I play this year, on the line.
As of late, the Cardinal have been defined by consistent productivity: They have scored at least two goals in all but one of their matches this month. The games also have featured highlight-reel goals and star performances from striker Jordan Morris.
The team’s first match against Oregon State (7-5-1, 2-2-1) kicks off Friday at 5 p.m. in Corvallis, Oregon. Stanford looks to continue its dominant form and close in on a second consecutive Pac-12 championship.
“It’s just like we prepare for every game,” head coach Jeremy Gunn said ahead of Friday’s game. “We see what our opponent has to offer, we figure out the best plan, and we execute.”
Although Stanford finds itself at the top of the conference, there’s no denying that the Pac-12 has been extremely competitive all year. Both of the Cardinal’s ties this year have come in conference play, and two of their conference wins have been decided by one goal.
“The great level of competition in this division will stop anybody from being complacent,” Gunn said. “The trick is not to look backwards on what you have done, but rather always look forward on what you can do.”
Looking forward past Friday against Oregon State, Stanford then plays in Seattle on Monday night against Washington (6-3-5, 2-1-2). The Huskies are the only team to hold Stanford scoreless during its undefeated run.
Gunn thought that despite the result of that fixture, the team still created many chances.
“They defended resolutely. Washington is a good side. But in soccer though, you only have to get one goal to change the situation completely.”
The resolute defense from the Huskies is expected to continue on Monday. Washington has allowed just 0.57 goals per game this season and currently leads the Pac-12 in that category.
Stanford will look to change the situation with the addition of new young talent. In addition to the much-acclaimed Jordan Morris, who leads the team with 7 goals, Stanford has benefited from a cohort of talented attackers including freshman Amir Bashti, whose first career collegiate goal came just weeks ago against Oregon State.
“Amir is an exceptional player who has wonderful skills and ability, and when he enters into the game he gives us a very different look than what the other forwards provide,” Gunn said.
“We have many ways we can adjust with different players depending on the tactical situation of the game. The exciting thing for us as coaches is that we have good players who are upset and want more playing time, and that keeps us hungry and keeps us moving forward.”
Stanford looks to solidify its hegemony at the top of the table and assert its dominance as a national powerhouse by winning both games this weekend. Doing so would clinch the Pac-12 title for the Cardinal before the team returns home for the regular season finale against Cal.
Contact Michael Spelfogel at mspel ‘at’ stanford.edu.