By Jose Saldana
For the majority of the match, it seemed that the Cardinal were going to have one of those frustrating games where the ball just cannot find the back of the net.
However, senior defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce, with a diving header, changed all that.
Hilliard-Arce’s 65th-minute goal elevated No. 8 Stanford men’s soccer (10-2-1, 4-0-1 Pac-12) over Oregon State (4-9-0, 1-4-0) in a 1-0 victory on Sunday afternoon. The Cardinal dominated the Beavers in shot attempts (23-8) and in shots on goal (9-2), but Stanford had trouble converting outside of the one goal.
The Cardinal remain perfect in the Pac-12 and have a one-point lead for first place over rival Cal.
The goal was set up when junior defender Tanner Beason handled the ball on the right side of the pitch. He made a move to his left and delivered a low cross near the right post where Hilliard-Arce lept forward and flicked the ball with his head to score.
Hilliard-Arce now has three goals on the season and his second in the past three games. He just needs one more to tie his career high for goals in a season.
The goal was a brief respite for the Cardinal after seeing shot after shot thwarted by the Beavers.
This was Stanford’s second game in a row where it attempted over 23 shots but was also the second game in a row where it could not convert many chances. Against Washington last Thursday night, Stanford had 24 shots and had to settle for a 1-1 decision.
“In some games you don’t have all the chances we did today,” Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn said of the team’s lack of goals. “We don’t get worried about the past. Instead we tell our team to look to the future, keep playing the ball, keep moving it, and they’ll break eventually.”
Oregon State goalkeeper Gage Rogers frustrated the Cardinal after posting a career-high eight saves and six saves in the second half alone.
The Cardinal began the game as if they wanted to get rid of the bad taste of their previous result. Stanford had seven corner kicks and nine shots in the first 30 minutes of action. However, Beavers Rogers had only two of his saves as many Cardinal shots went high or were blocked by Oregon State defenders in the first half.
The first period ended tied at 0-0 with the Cardinal on the precipice of breaking the Beavers defense but couldn’t do it until Hilliard-Arce’s goal in the second half.
Even after the goal, Stanford couldn’t get past the Rogers and the Beavers defenders. Nothing epitomized this more than junior forward Amir Bashti’s performance in the waning moments of the match.
Bashti had two good looks in consecutive possessions to put the ball in the net, but Rogers made a play on both to keep the score 1-0 until the final whistle.
On the other side of the pitch, Stanford fifth-year senior goalkeeper Nico Corti wasn’t tested often as only a 46th-minute Oregon State shot attempt almost managed to sneak past before Corti made the save.
The Cardinal head to the Pacific Northwest to rematch against Washington on Thursday at 8 p.m. and Oregon State on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.