On a chilly Palo Alto night, No. 6 Stanford men’s soccer (14-2-2, 7-1-2 Pac-12) finished off its regular season with a 1-0 win against rivals No. 23 California (9-6-2, 4-4-2) on Thursday. The Cardinal celebrated their Pac-12 Championship following the game — which they officially earned when Washington lost last Friday — lifting the blue and silver trophy for the second year in a row.
With junior forward Jordan Morris named to the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 23-man roster for its first match of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers on Nov. 13, the Cardinal were looking to replace their number one offensive weapon.
While sophomores Foster Langsdorf and Corey Baird started up top, it was midfielder Sam Werner who delivered the decisive goal in the seventh minute on Baird’s eighth assist of the season. Werner’s early goal kept the Cardinal energized throughout the match.
“We always want to come out really sharp,” Werner said. “I saw a slot and finished it… It was great vision from Corey to find me.”
Although Stanford won, Cal’s active offense maintained possession for most of the game. The Golden Bears came away with 13 shots to Stanford’s 5. A tireless Cardinal defense protected the backfield from Cal’s continuous attack. Defender Nick Lima led Cal with 3 shots, but some key saves from junior goalkeeper Andrew Epstein kept the Bears from converting.
“Cal is a great passing team, so they wore us down a little bit,” Werner said. “But the good thing about us is we just have great defense and really hard workers. Even if our shot production wasn’t super high, we were still able to get in tight and make sure they weren’t getting opportunities that were too dangerous.”
A possible reason for Stanford’s lack of possession might have been the result of senior co-captain Ty Thompson being out with injury. Sophomore midfielder Adam Mosharrafa, who has been seeing more playing time this year, replaced him.
“Without those guys [Morris and Thompson], it’s a big hole to fill,” sophomore defender Drew Skundrich said. “I think all those guys coming on did a great job filling in those roles. It’s pretty easy to do that in our program as long as you put in the work off the field to prepare yourself for it.”
Despite losing Thompson’s leadership and game management on the field, the Cardinal still fared well enough to cap off their 14th win of the season and can now start to look ahead to an even larger stage.
The Cardinal will enter into elimination rounds of the NCAA tournament following this win. Morris and Thompson will likely return for the tournament to push Stanford to its ultimate goal of a first finals appearance since 2002.
Selection for the tournament bracket will take place this Monday, and Stanford will get a bye through the first round if it is a number one seed. The second-round match will take place on Sunday, Nov. 22. Opponent and location are TBA.
Contact Taylor Duarte at taylor3 ‘at’ stanford.edu.