By Ells Boone
Head coach Jeremy Gunn stuck with the same lineup that saw his squad get its first win of the season four days prior against Pacific, and his decision paid off. No. 25 Stanford men’s soccer (2-1-0, 0-0-0 Pac-12) defeated UC Santa Barbara (2-1-1, 0-0-0 Big West) 2-1, holding off a late push from the Gauchos.
Redshirt senior forward Zach Ryan and junior forward Ousseni Bouda were the two goalscorers for the Cardinal, while junior forward Thaabit Baartman found the back of the net for UCSB.
Playing in Cagan Stadium for its home opener, Stanford got the proceedings started early. Junior midfielder Cam Cilley played Bouda out wide, who then picked out Ryan in the middle of the box. All Ryan had to do was pass the ball into the net for the easy finish and 1-0 lead. Last year’s Pac-12 Player of the Year is now one goal away from moving into a tie for 10th all-time in goals for the Cardinal.
Eight minutes later, Cilley was making things happen again as the opposing defenders let him make a free run into the box. However, his shot was unable to find the goal, hitting the side netting. Stanford thought they had doubled their lead in the 14th minute when senior midfielder Will Richmond’s cross made it to Ryan, but the play was called back for offsides.
In the 19th minute, Bouda’s shot from outside of the box forced UCSB sophomore goalkeeper Leroy Zeller to punch the ball away from goal.
By halftime, the score was still 1-0 with Stanford outshooting the Gauchos 10-1.
The Cardinal came out of the break ready to play and looking to attack. In the 50th minute, Bouda again unleashed a shot from outside of the box, this time it found its way across the keeper’s body and into the left side of the goal. Stanford had found its second.
The next big chance would come 15 minutes later as the Cardinal found themselves on a counter attack. Ryan played a through ball into the box to Richmond who had his attempt saved at point blank range by Zeller.
Things took a turn for the worse in the 72nd minute when Ryan fell awkwardly on his shoulder and the medical staff had to be called to the field. He was able to walk off the field without aid, even jawing with a player on the opposing team, but did not return to the match. He was seen after the match with an ice patch on the shoulder.
From that point on, UCSB upped the ante and went on the attack. Five minutes after Ryan’s injury, Gaucho sophomore midfielder Nemo Philipp forced a great save out of Cardinal redshirt junior goalkeeper Matt Frank with his shot from the right side of the box.
UCSB kept pushing and they were eventually rewarded for their efforts. In the 80th minute, sophomore forward Finn Ballard McBride got on the end of a long ball and had an open look at goal, but he decided to lay it off for his teammate Baartman, who was able to finish easily. The Gauchos had found a way back into the match with just 10 minutes remaining.
The Southern California school nearly equalized in the last minute as Baartman’s shot took a deflection that forced a crucial save from Frank. Nevertheless, the Cardinal were able to hold on for the victory as they moved to 2-1-0 on the year. The final shot total was 15-10 in favor of Stanford, but UCSB outshot the Cardinal 9-5 in the second period.
The question now for Gunn’s side is the health and availability of Zach Ryan. For the Cardinal’s sake, fans should hope he will not be out for an extended period of time, as he and Bouda have formed an elite partnership at the top of the pitch in the Cardinal’s first three matches. Stanford will be back in action Saturday at 7 p.m. PT to take on San Jose State at home. It will be the team’s last home game before students move in for Fall Quarter — the first time the entire student body is expected to return to campus since March 2020.