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Men’s soccer produces best season opener since 2002

By and

No. 5 men’s soccer (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) opened the 2019 season with a definitive showcase of talent on Friday. The defending conference champions found their stride against a struggling Penn State (0-1, 0-0 Big Ten) offensive as five different Cardinal athletes contributed to the 5-0 victory at University Park.

Stanford’s five goals were the most in the past 17 season openers. Stanford defeated Sacramento State 5-0 to begin its season on Aug. 31, 2002. 

Play against the Nittany Lions began with back-to-back shot attempts. Stanford’s formidable defense, led by redshirt senior defender Tanner Beason, the reigning Pac-12 Player and Defensive Player of the Year, thwarted a total of four shots on goal, three of which came in the first half.

Sophomore midfielder Will Richmond converted a corner kick from Charlie Wehan to open the scoring card in the 11th minute. Two minutes later, Beason, last season’s conference leader in goals (six) and points (15), doubled the Cardinal lead after converting a penalty kick. 

The 2-0 scoreline remained constant through the first 45 minutes. Stanford had found its rhythm, producing 10 shots, with five on goal, in the opening frame. For the Nittany Lions, the evening dance with the Cardinal proved to be a bigger challenge than its previous meeting.

In 2016, the two teams met for the first time in program history. Stanford was opening its season after having just won its first national title. Unranked Penn State managed to contain the then-No.1 Cardinal to a scoreless double overtime draw, effectively a victory for the Nittany Lions. 

But Friday evening was a different story. With eight fouls and a two-score deficit, conditions went from bad to worse for Penn State. In front of a home crowd, the Nittany Lions conceded three goals in the second half. Junior forward Charlie Wehan, who along with senior midfielder Jared Gilbey received the assist for Richmond’s opening goal, contributed a goal of his own off a corner from senior midfielder Derek Waldeck. It was Wehan’s fourth career goal, extending the Cardinal lead to 3-0 in the 63rd minute.

Five minutes later, Stanford scored again. This time, it was freshman standout Ousseni Bouda who found the back of the net for his first collegiate goal. Off a Waldeck free kick, Bouda headed the ball past Penn State goalie Josh Levine.

The final Cardinal punch came in the 84th minute, when freshman forward Gabe Segal capitalized on a loose ball in the box to earn Stanford its fifth and final goal of the game. It was the most goals scored by the Cardinal since a 5-1 UCLA win on Nov. 2, 2017.

Despite 10 fouls and two yellow cards in the second half, Stanford’s physical — maybe too physical — style of play proved victorious in the end. Penn State faced a total of 18 shots, saving six and responded with 10 shots of its own throughout the match, ultimately proving fruitless.

Stanford returns to the pitch on Monday for an away matchup with No. 3 Akron, the team that sent the Cardinal home in the NCAA quarterfinals last year. There’s no doubt Stanford will be seeking revenge for the abrupt season ending when play continues in Arkon, OH at 4 p.m. PT.

Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu and Nandini Naidu at nnaidu ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Alejandro Salinas '21 is a Managing Editor of Sports. Hailing from Pasadena, CA, he studies computer science and biology as a junior. In his free time he enjoys running, playing with dogs and watching sports. Contact him at asalinas 'at' stanford.edu.