By Jose Saldana
Sophomore midfielder Amir Bashti’s 78th minute goal was the difference Thursday night as Stanford men’s soccer (5-2-3, 2-0-0 Pac-12) defeated No. 16 Washington (7-4-0, 1-2-0) 1-0 at Husky Stadium.
The Huskies dominated the first half as the Cardinal were outshot 3-2 and had one corner to five Husky corners. The Stanford defense was up to the challenge by blanketing any threatening Husky possession. The Stanford set-piece defense was particularly strong as the Cardinal defenders were able to snuff out any crosses into the box.
On the other side of the pitch, Stanford’s offense could not muster any significant attempts at goal besides a shot off the post from junior forward Corey Baird. The Huskies were able to limit the Cardinal’s leading goal scorer, junior Foster Langsdorf, to one shot for the game.
“The first half was really tough for us,” head coach Jeremy Gunn said. “We didn’t impose ourselves on the game enough and had to soak up an awful lot of pressure. Washington was little bit sharper than us in the quick conditions and was allowed to put a lot of balls into the box. They came close on a couple, but the guys did tremendous job denying in the first half and taking the body blows.”
Coming out the break, Stanford was determined to develop better offensive possessions.
Stanford forward Baird made a decent chance at a goal in the 51st minute but was saved by senior Husky goalkeeper Auden Schilder.
In the 55th minute, the Huskies had their most dangerous attempt at goal. Washington was fouled on their offensive side of the pitch, and senior Husky defender Justin Schmidt sent a breaking 30-yard free-kick into the box where Washington’s Mason Robertson leaped and delivered a powerful header to the left edge of the box. With little reaction time afforded, junior goalkeeper Andrew Epstein managed to extend his right hand to poke the ball wide of the goal.
“[Washington] is always solid on set-pieces, so that’s something we talked about,” Epstein said of his save on Robertson’s header. “But I don’t know, I just got my feet back in and got myself set and made a play when I could. Honestly, it happened pretty quickly, and I don’t know if there’s a lot to it besides reacting.”
This save would prove pivotal for Stanford as it kept the Huskies from scoring for the rest of the game.
As the final stretch of the game was looming, junior midfielder Bryce Marion took possession of the ball and sprinted down the right sideline and was fouled by a Husky player. Junior Sam Werner sent the ensuing free kick to the middle of the box, where a mess of Huskies and Cardinal players stood waiting to receive the ball. The ball somehow landed at the feet of Bashti, who came on as a substitute for Baird. Bashti managed to stick his left foot out to toe poke the ball into the left edge of the net, opening his goal-scoring account for the season and putting Stanford in the lead.
“That was a sharp first-time finish and some wonderful technique,” Gunn said. “Sam whipped it in, Adrian challenged in the air and then Amir put together a very good finish in the box.”
The 1-0 lead would stand until the end of the game as the Stanford defense put in another gritty performance to keep Washington from scoring.
This marked the team’s first victory at Washington since 2006 and was the first time the Cardinal had back-to-back shutouts since 2007.
Epstein’s brilliant save helped add a 17th clean sheet to his career total, and his second clean sheet in row.
The Cardinal will look to remain undefeated in conference play when they take on the Oregon State Beavers (4-4-3, 0-1-2) at Lorenz Field on Sunday at 11 a.m. Stanford is 32-6-5 all-time against the Beavers and 7-0-1 under Gunn, but the Beavers will be motivated for their first conference victory.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.