By Jose Saldana
No. 16 Stanford men’s soccer (7-2-3, 4-0 Pac-12) defeated No. 25 San Diego State (6-3-3, 1-2-1) by a 3-1 margin at Cagan Stadium on Thursday night to remain unbeaten in conference play.
The team’s 4-0 record marks the best start to conference play in the history of the Cardinal program.
Freshman midfielder Derek Waldeck’s 77th-minute goal proved decisive for Stanford. With the Cardinal leading just 2-1, the Aztecs were threatening to tie the game, but Waldeck’s score put the Cardinal up by a safe margin of two goals.
The Cardinal defense began the game slowly, as the Aztecs were able to earn a couple corners and attempts at goal in the early minutes of the game.
In the seventh minute, Stanford junior forward Corey Baird pushed the ball up to junior forward Foster Langsdorf, who delivered an ambitious, curling shot over the outstretched hands of Aztecs keeper, senior Adam Allmaras, for his eighth goal of the season.
Down a goal, the Aztecs kept working the offensive side of the pitch. They had their best chance at a goal in the 11th minute, when an Aztecs header hit the top post and bounced near the goal line. Stanford’s senior goalkeeper Andrew Epstein managed to pounce on the ball, keeping the Aztecs from tying the game.
“[The Aztecs] got a good ball in, and they are good in the air,” Epstein said of the Aztecs shot off the post, “We were lucky on that one to stay out.”
For the rest of the first period, the Stanford offense struggled to muster any more chances at goal because of a stout San Diego State defense, which was ranked second in the nation in goals against average (0.43) coming into the game. Stanford’s defense played more decisively, however, as it shutout the Aztecs for the first 45 minutes.
Once the second period began, both offenses began to amp up pressure on the defenses.
After a flurry of shot attempts by each team in the 64th minute, Baird sent a corner kick into the box where junior defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce headed the ball to the back of the net. The goal was Tomas’ second of the season.
Even with a two-goal lead for the Cardinal, San Diego State’s offense kept the Stanford defense on its toes.
The Aztecs finally broke through in the 76th minute when sophomore midfielder Pablo Pelaez booted a high-arcing shot over Epstein from 25 yards. The goal was the first score given up by Stanford in conference play.
The Cardinal quickly responded a with a goal of their own just a minute later when sophomore midfielder Amir Bashti delivered a through-ball to Waldeck, who finished the setup with a brilliant shot to the right edge of the goal for the first score of his collegiate career.
Before the game, the Aztecs had only allowed multiple goals once this season.
“First half, I don’t think we executed it,” said Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn, regarding the Cardinal’s offensive display. “The second half, we passed and moved the ball really well and continued to put [the Aztecs] on the back foot. It was great to get the three goals in the game. No question about that.”
The Cardinal will welcome No. 17 UCLA (7-3-1, 3-1) to Cagan Stadium on Sunday at 5 p.m. The match will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.