By Jose Saldana
Although the match was in doubt in the first half, ninth-seeded Stanford men’s soccer (16-2-2) showed its experience and resilience against Coastal Carolina (14-7-1) to win 2-0 on Sunday at Cagan Stadium.
The victory sends the Cardinal to North Carolina to play No. 1 Wake Forest in the NCAA quarterfinal. Stanford defeated the Deacons in the quarterfinals in 2015 en route to its first national championship. Then, last year, Stanford met the Deacons in the championship game where the Cardinal prevailed in a dramatic set of penalties.
After each team went scoreless in the first half, junior defender Tanner Beason opened the Cardinal’s scoring account with a penalty shot in the 50th minute.
Senior forward Foster Langsdorf added to his Pac-12 leading total with another goal in the 90th to give Stanford some breathing room.
Another NCAA tournament game, another postseason shutout for the Cardinal. Stanford has not allowed a goal in nine consecutive matches. The last time Stanford gave up a goal was a penalty shot from Wake Forest in 2015.
The last time the Cardinal lost in the NCAA Tournament? Langsdorf was a freshman against UC Irvine in 2014.
The game wasn’t easy sledding for either as the physicality of Coastal Carolina capacitated any Cardinal scoring chance while Stanford’s strong defensive line held the Chanticleers in check.
“We came out with the intent of passing and moving, and in the first half I felt we did that, but then we were just a little too cute at times,” Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn said. “Coastal is very good at pressing and countering, so we gave away unnecessary free kicks against a team you don’t want to give away set pieces to. We just finished some possessions short that allowed good counters.”
At the half, the Chanticleers outshot Stanford nine to six, as the defensive pressing nature of Coastal Carolina’s style of play seemed to catch the Cardinal off guard.
“My message at halftime was to still be brave and play, but we needed to get them on the back foot,” Gunn said “They were onto us. If you play short, short, short, you get pressed, pressed, pressed.”
However, the physicality backfired on Coastal Carolina as senior midfielder Bryce Marion drew a penalty in the 50th. Beason knocked in the penalty to give Stanford a 1-0 lead. It was Beason’s fourth goal of the season and the seventh of his career.
A few chances later, in the 90th, senior midfielder Corey Baird synced up with Langsdorf for a pass, which gave Langsdorf a clear lane for a goal. The only player in the way was the Chanticleers’ keeper. Langsdorf delivered a right-foot strike, which glanced off the keeper’s left hand to give Stanford a 2-0 victory.
The goal was Langsdorf’s 13th of the year, and he leads the Pac-12 in goals, points, points per game and game-winning goals this season.
“The whole game plan was we’d love to be knocking them out in the first 10 minutes,” Gunn said “But if we kept the ball moving, kept playing with that intensity, some of their players are big, strong guys that we felt we’d wear down. We wanted a high tempo, we wanted to get the ball moving, and I think we achieved that. I believe it paid dividends in the latter stages to give us a bit more time and space.”
The Chanticleers’ had their chances at goals with 17 shots, but the play of the defense and fifth-year senior Nico Corti delivered the shutout.
Corti earned his 11th clean sheet of the year with his five saves and has combined with previous Stanford keeper Andrew Epstein ‘17 to keep the nine-game shutout streak alive for the Cardinal.
The defensive line led by senior Tomas Hilliard-Arce held Coastal Carolina to only five shots-on-goal out of 17 shots.
“You always want to do your job as a goalie,” Corti said. “You’re going to be called upon once, maybe two times in a game when you’re playing with a team like this. The reality is the reason I don’t have to do much work is because we’ve got a phenomenal back line in front of me doing incredible things.”
Hilliard-Arce and Langsdorf have both been named semifinalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is the greatest individual award in college soccer.
Hilliard-Arce was a semifinalist for the award last season.
The Cardinal advance to the NCAA quarterfinal for a rematch of last season’s title game to play Wake Forest this Saturday at 4 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN3.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.