After a dominant regular season, Stanford men’s soccer (14-2-2, 7-1-2 Pac-12), which received the No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament, will enter postseason play in the second round of the NCAAs when it faces off against the Santa Clara Broncos (11-7-1) this Sunday. It will be the program’s 14th appearance in the NCAA tournament.
In addition to looking to advance far in the tournament, the Cardinal seek to erase the painful memory of their 1-0 overtime loss to UC Irvine in the second round of last season’s NCAA tournament.
This past week, Stanford cleaned up in the awards department, earning three out of the four Pac-12 Honors for soccer. Pac-12 Player of the Year went to junior forward Jordan Morris, and senior co-captain Brandon Vincent earned Defensive Player of the Year. Head coach Jeremy Gunn, who has taken the team to three consecutive postseason appearances during his four-year tenure, won his second consecutive Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
Morris, who has returned from playing with the U.S. National Team for World Cup qualifiers, leads the Stanford team with 8 goals in thirteen games and will be looked to as a leader in the team’s front line. Sophomore forward Foster Langsdorf is close behind with 6 goals and has provided some relief for the Cardinal offense when Morris is on national team duty.
Fifth-year senior Eric Verso has racked up 11 assists this season, the most for a Cardinal player since 2002 and fourth in the NCAA this year. Verso’s impressive passing ability is a major reason the team is 10th in the nation in assists per game.
The Cardinal defense has arguably been even more impressive than the offense, allowing .67 goals per game. Six members of Stanford’s midfield and defense were named to either the first or second All-Pac-12 teams.
Stanford has been able to successfully replace its missing players — whether that be Morris or senior co-captain Ty Thompson, who has missed the past three games due to injury — with a talented group coming off the bench that has played valuable minutes and filled big shoes.
Santa Clara will come into the game fresh off a 3-0 win over Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night, in which three different players found the back of the net. Sophomore forward Carlos Delgadillo, the Broncos’ scoring leader with 9 goals on the season, has some momentum going into the game against Stanford after scoring against the Titans. However, the Broncos lack the overall scoring balance of the Cardinal: Santa Clara’s next closest player only has just 3 goals.
The Cardinal and Broncos squared off earlier this year in a preseason match that ended in a scoreless draw. Even though Stanford dominated that game on offense, firing 14 shots to Santa Clara’s 5, the Cardinal were not able to convert. Langsdorf and fellow sophomore Tomas Hilliard-Arce both had 3 shots in that exhibition game.
The Cardinal will put their undefeated record at Cagan Stadium, and their postseason hopes, on the line this Sunday, Nov. 22 at 5 p.m. when they take on the Broncos.
Contact Taylor Duarte at taylor3 ‘at’ stanford.edu