By Cybele Zhang
Tonight No. 6 Stanford men’s soccer (11-2-4, 7-1-1 Pac-12) will take on the University of California (6-9-2, 2-7-0) in the final game of the regular season. A win or draw will secure the Cardinal the Pac-12 Conference Championship outright.
Stanford already earned a share of the title on Sunday, when the Cardinal traveled to Los Angeles to defeat UCLA (10-7-0, 5-4-0) 1-0. The win boosted Stanford’s point total in the conference to 22; Oregon State (10-4-3, 6-2-1) is close behind with 19 but has one game remaining at Washington (11-7-0, 5-4-0) tomorrow, when they will fight for their half of the award.
If Stanford claims the 2018 conference title, this will make the Cardinal the first Pac-12 school to win five championships in a row. Head coach Jeremy Gunn is already the only coach in league history to have won more than two consecutive Pac-12 titles.
The Stanford women’s team secured their respective title over the weekend after defeating Berkeley. If the men secure the Pac-12 with their own win over Cal, this will be the fourth consecutive year that both the men’s and women’s teams have swept the conference soccer championships.
Currently on a four-game winning streak, the Cardinal will face rival California for the second time this season. The previous match-up, which was held in Berkeley on Oct. 7, ended favorably for Stanford, who won decisively 4-2.
Junior co-captain Tanner Beason earned the title of Pac-12 Player of the Week on Tuesday, and looks to lead the Cardinal to another victory in the rivalry game. This is the second time this season that Beason has earned the Player of the Week award. Although a central defender by trade, Beason has consistently contributed to the score sheet, racking up six goals in the last eight games. Much of the 6 feet 1 inch player’s success has come from the air off of set pieces.
Stanford’s offense is currently ranked first in the conference largely thanks to players such as senior midfielder/forward Amir Bashti and freshman forward Zach Ryan, who have seven and eight goals on the season, respectively. The Cardinal averages 2.33 goals per game in conference.
However, to ensure a final season win and the conference title, Stanford must also deliver on defense, and thus far, the Cardinal have been imposing in goal. Freshman goalkeeper Andrew Thomas has recorded 10 shootouts this season and leads the Pac-12 in saves with 61. He also tops the conference’s save percentage with 0.859. In contrast, the Golden Bears’ goalkeeper Drake Callender only has 36 saves and a 0.706 save percentage on the season.
In all-time meetings dating back to 1973, the Cardinal lead the University of California 32-33-9. Stanford has been unbeaten at home against the Berkeley since 2010.
Kick off is at 8:00 p.m. PST tonight at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
Contact Cybele Zhang at cybelez ‘at’ stanford.edu.