By James Hemker
Today No. 6 Stanford men’s soccer (9-2-4, Pac-12 5-1-1) travels south to battle San Diego State (6-8-1, 1-6-0). This will be the second meeting of the season for the two teams. Stanford won the last contest in late September to the tune of 3-0. All time, the Cardinal lead the series 18-11-8, with the Aztecs’ last win coming in 2011. Since that game, Stanford has outscored SDSU 39-9.
The Cardinal are hungry for a decisive match, since three of their last four games lasted to double overtime. As such, the Aztecs could not arrive at a better time.
SDSU averages only one goal per game, while Stanford freshman goalkeeper Andrew Thomas ranks 12th in the nation with a stellar goals-against average of .620. The stalwart backline has aided Thomas in posting a shutout per game average of .533, which is 10th best nationally. The Aztecs’ defense is scarier than their offense, but the most goals they allowed in a game this season were the Cardinal’s three.
Stanford’s offense is in a great position to capitalize on their four-game unbeaten streak. Over those games, nine balls were put in the back of the net by five different players. Junior defender Tanner Beason led that crusade with three goals, and freshman forward Zach Ryan added two more, including the golden goal over Denver last week.
Through the season so far, senior forward Amir Bashti (seven goals), Ryan (seven goals) and Beason (five goals) account for almost three-quarters of Stanford’s 26 total goals. Thanks to the offense’s ability to keep possession, Stanford has outshot their opponents 218-185, which can only lead to more scoring opportunities.
Despite the seemingly easy matchup, expect the Cardinal to play at full tilt. This game is the first of Stanford’s last three conference games. If they are able to execute the sweep, Stanford will be guaranteed first place in the Pac-12. This is a likely scenario, as SDSU, UCLA (9-6-0, 4-3-0) and Cal (5-8-2, 1-6-0) round out the bottom half of the conference.
If the Cardinal lose any of the three games, fans will need to cheer for a Washington (10-7-0, 5-4-0) win over Oregon State (10-4-3, 6-2-1) in November. Otherwise, Stanford can expect a tie with Oregon State at best. In this situation, Oregon State wins the tiebreaker for first place from their victory earlier in the season.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. PST at the SDSU Sports Deck.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu