Coming off of a dominant 1-0 victory over Oregon State on Sunday, the No. 8 Stanford men’s soccer team (10-2-1, 4-0-1 Pac-12) heads to Seattle on Thursday for a showdown with the No. 21 Washington Huskies (9-4-1, 2-2-1).
The two Pac-12 rivals played to a 1-1 draw at Stanford’s Cagan Stadium on Oct. 12, a back-and-forth matchup in which both teams had a multitude of scoring opportunities but were unable to capitalize.
If history is any indication, Thursday’s matchup will be physical and close-scoring. Last week’s match was the latest in a series of thrillers between these two squads. Last year, Washington came into Cagan and ended the Cardinal’s 21-game home winning streak with an overtime victory and Stanford returned the favor with a 1-0 win in Seattle.
“They’re always incredible games. I think ever since I’ve been here, I don’t think we’ve had a dull game. They’re always so exciting, they’re so competitive. I think they really bring out the best in both teams,” Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn said following last week’s draw. “We just always have lock-down battles.”
Senior forward Drew Skundrich will look to continue his success from last week’s battle with the Huskies, as he led the Cardinal with four shots on goal and scored their only goal of the match. He was assisted on the goal by senior defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce, who was the star for the Cardinal in Sunday’s win over the Beavers, where he scored his third goal of the season in the 65th minute.
Along with star forward Foster Langsdorf, who leads the Cardinal with eight goals, the Cardinal should also get some offensive firepower from speedy freshman forward Charlie Wehan, who assisted on Hilliard-Arce’s goal in Sunday’s matchup. In their previous meeting with Washington, Wehan came off the bench and gave the Cardinal offense a spark in the second half by putting pressure on the Huskies defense with his quickness.
Stanford largely outplayed Washington in the second half and in the extra time of their previous matchup, but it couldn’t secure a victory due to a sluggish start that allowed the Huskies to jump out to an early lead.
Their previous meeting was a physical one, thanks in part to aggressive play by the Cardinal midfield and back line. But despite the physicality of their matchups, Gunn was quick to refute the idea of a rivalry between two of the Pac-12 conference’s premier programs. Skundrich, however, had other opinions.
“We’ve considered them a rival ever since they’ve gotten here,” Skundrich said. “They play similar to us in that they like to hit long balls, like to go direct, test our defense. It’s always a good battle with them, always a good fight.”
Stanford comes into Thursday’s matchup undefeated in conference play, while Washington fell to fourth in the conference standings after a 2-1 loss to Cal on Sunday.
Thursday’s match begins at 8 p.m. and will be streamed on the Pac-12 networks.
Contact Gregory Block at gblock ‘at’ stanford.edu.