By Jose Saldana
It wouldn’t be a Stanford postseason game without the match heading into overtime scoreless. It wasn’t easy, and Indiana had some incredible opportunities for goals, but at the end of the game, only Stanford’s ballad “All Right Now” blared out of stadium.
What a farewell for this prestigious group of seniors.
Senior midfielder Sam Werner’s sudden-death goal in overtime earned Stanford men’s soccer (19-2-2) its third consecutive NCAA title after defeating Indiana (18-1-6) 1-0 on Sunday morning in Philadelphia. The victory put Stanford atop the all-time national championships list with 115 to UCLA’s 114.
The Cardinal are now the second Division I men’s soccer program to win three championships in a row, joining only Virginia (1991-94).
Stanford is also the only school to win both a women’s and a men’s national soccer title in the same year. Women’s soccer defeated UCLA 3-2 in Orlando on Jaye Boissiere’s game-winning goal last Sunday.
Werner’s triumphant goal came in the second overtime period came after clever footwork from senior midfielder Corey Baird broke down Indiana’s defense just enough for the ball to come out to Werner on the left flank. He delivered a dipping shot that went over the head of six-foot-four Hoosiers goalkeeper Trey Muse and into the back of the net for the win.
Six Stanford seniors have been part of three national championship teams: Baird, forward Foster Langsdorf, defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce, midfielder Bryce Marion, midfielder Drew Skundrich and goalkeeper Nico Corti. Their contributions have allowed the Cardinal to be one of the premier programs in the nation.
There were many parallels between the two contenders. Indiana and Stanford featured the best defenses in the country as they were ranked first and second, respectively, in goals-against average. The Cardinal’s defense is spearheaded by Pac-12 Defender of the Year Hilliard-Arce, and the Hoosiers are led by Big-10 Defender of the Year Grant Lillard.
Stanford has the eighth-ranked scoring offense (2.14) while Indiana’s scoring offense is ranked 17th (2.04).
The matchup even featured sibling rivalry as Cardinal freshman defender Logan Panchot is the younger brother of Indiana midfielder Austin Panchot.
Indiana began the game with quick movement and penetration, almost surprising the usually stout Stanford defense. The first 15 minutes featured fast and inspired passing by the Hoosiers, which forced the Cardinal on their heels.
However, after Marion’s deep run in the ninth, Stanford settled into the match. Marion took the ball down into the middle of the box. He sent a screaming strike to the left side of the net, but Muse made a brilliant diving save to keep the game scoreless.
Although the Cardinal couldn’t capitalize on Marion’s shot, they would get more opportunities from Langsdorf’s and Baird’s runs to the box.
Stanford ended the first half with five shots (two on goal), and Indiana had one shot (none on goal).
Neither team could separate themselves for the first 10 minutes of the second half, with both teams suffocating the opposing offense. Then, the chances began coming for each team.
In the 61st, Stanford had a great opportunity at goal when Werner centered the ball from the left side. Baird managed to get his head on it, but the shot attempt went wide right.
Three minutes later, Langsdorf brushed off multiple Hoosier defenders and sent a through ball to Baird. Baird had a one-on-one with Muse, but his shot couldn’t escape the goalkeeper’s clutches.
Corti had to make his first save of the game in the 69th after the Hoosiers’ passing led to a header by Indiana midfielder Griffin Dorsey. Corti came up out of his line to make the save.
Corti was needed once again as the Hoosiers had their best chance at a score in the 84th when an Indiana player sent a low cross from the left side of the box. The ball zipped into dangerous territory in front of goal, but Indiana couldn’t put a body on the ball.
That would be the last chance for either team before heading into sudden death overtime.
Stanford had five more shots in the second half, and Indiana added three more to its tally.
The first overtime didn’t feature many opportunities for either side. Then, two minutes into the second overtime, Werner struck the game-winning goal, sending the Stanford side into a pile of jubilation.
The goal was Werner’s fifth of the season, extending his career high, and his third of the postseason.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.