Slowly but surely, Stanford’s men’s soccer team pushed Loyola Marymount’s defense back toward its goal. The constant aggressor throughout Friday night’s match, the Cardinal strung passes together, pressed forward and pounded shots at the Lions from all over the field.
It just wasn’t enough.
A missed clearance 12 minutes into the match gave LMU hope, and despite outshooting its opponent 29-13, the Cardinal lost yet another close match when the Lions scored five minutes into overtime to win the game 2-1.
For Stanford (3-4), the loss marked the third 2-1 defeat of its young season, and the second overtime loss.
“In the end, we gave up a couple of goals on set pieces and that was the difference,” said head coach Jeremy Gunn. “We weren’t troubled much other than the odd counter attack, but they were dangerous on set pieces.”
With a lineup that was long on height, if short on skill, LMU didn’t waste time threatening, winning some early free kicks in Stanford’s half. But it was an almost innocuous looking chance that proved deadly.
A long cross into the box found an open Lion forward, but his header was off target and hit the crossbar. The rebound, however, fell through the Stanford defense and straight to Eric Brunter who easily found the back of the net from point-blank range.
From then on, the Cardinal dominated.
Both on the attack and defense, Stanford was the superior team, giving up a few chances but creating plenty more of its own. Senior forward Adam Jahn had several attempts near goal, including a shot that nearly equalized the score just before the break. And the freshman duo of Aaron Kovar and Ty Thompson both had good opportunities that failed to produce results.
Halftime did nothing to slow the Stanford attack, as Jahn came out firing with a nice piece of skill and the Card pounded shot after shot unsuccessfully.
The 1,191-person crowd thought Stanford had finally broken through when senior defender Hunter Gorskie’s header stretched LMU goalkeeper Paul Blanchette to his limit, but the referee ruled that the entire ball had not crossed the line and the Lions held onto their slim advantage.
It was short lived, however, as the Cardinal struck pay dirt 10 minutes later in the 80thminute when Kovar pounced on his own rebound and slotted the ball past Blanchette into the side netting.
The crowd and both teams seemed resigned to a Stanford victory, as the momentum was clearly on the home team’s side. But the freshman Blanchette continued to keep the Card at bay, making his career-high eighth and final save when Jahn seemed to have an opening but was turned away just before injury time.
Overtime saw the same attacking Stanford team push LMU back to its own goal, as a nice combination and good cross from junior defender Tyler Conklin found classmate J.J. Koval in front of the goal. Once again, Koval’s header sailed just over the bar as the crowd groaned.
Minutes later, LMU struck for the golden goal to end the match 5:55 into the extra period.
Gunn’s exasperation was evident.
“It’s very frustrating because we are doing so much right,” he said. “Yet, we are falling short in games where we should be doing better. It is a difficult result and a similar situation to the Santa Clara game. We just have to put it behind us and move on.”
Last week against Santa Clara, Stanford outshot the Broncos 24-9 but couldn’t overcome an early two-goal deficit. Overall, the Cardinal has outshot its opponent a combined 79-41 in its four losses on the season.
There’s little time to stew, as Pac-12 play opens this weekend and No. 12 UCLA will prove a rude visitor if the Cardinal cannot find the net. The conference’s preseason favorite once again, the Bruins have struggled at Cagan Stadium, losing four of the past five games on the Farm. This Friday’s match is scheduled for 4 p.m. and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.