Zach Batteer knows the importance of scoring at the right time.
The junior’s two goals Friday night against the USF Dons (5-7-2, 2-2-1 West Coast Conference), including the game winner in the first period of overtime, helped Stanford (7-4-2, 1-3-1 Pac-12)
The Cardinal finishes nonconference play with an impressive 6-1-1 record, something which will definitely be looked upon kindly when the selection committee is poring over the books before setting the field for the NCAA Tournament.
The game was a very tightly contested affair from the opening minutes, with some crunching tackles being thrown around and the teams finding little to separate them. A superb piece of skill by junior forward Batteer was perhaps the highlight of the opening 20 minutes, as he turned two defenders inside out with a flick and turn before seeing his cross palmed by USF’s junior goalie Chase Hauser.
USF had a penalty appeal turned down when junior forward Miguel Aguilar was taken down by sophomore defender Brandon Vincent, leading to huge protestations from USF coach Erik Visser. However, near the end of the first half, Stanford began to dominate, with senior midfielder JJ Koval sending two shots at Hauser and Batteer nearly getting on the end of a cross from sophomore winger Aaron Kovar.
Stanford’s dominance continued after the break, with Koval seeing his shot tipped over by a diving Hauser. The breakthrough finally came in the 63rd minute, when sophomore midfielder Ty Thompson laid the ball off to freshman forward Jordan Morris, whose cross was spilled by Hauser into the path of Batteer, who nodded home the rebound.
After the goal, however, Stanford seemed to become slightly complacent and USF got back into the game, with senior forward Liam Kelly barely missing with a header. This momentum led to the equalizer: Sophomore midfielder Jesus del Toro scored his third goal of the season after a broken play that stemmed from Aguilar’s header rolling short.
The Dons almost won the game in regular time, as Kelly beat freshman defender Brian Nana-Sinkam before seeing his dipping shot beaten away by senior goalie Drew Hutchins, whose save was equally as important as Batteer’s two goals.
The overtime period flowed back and forth, with both teams seeing good chances saved by goalkeepers who seemed desperate to prolong the tension that pervaded Cagan Stadium. Batteer saw his shot by Hauser, while Kelly saw a superb shot saved by a diving Hutchins, who flew to his left to push the ball away. Batteer struck again in the 97th minute for his team-leading seventh goal. From a Ty Thompson cross, Hauser failed to fully clear with his punch and the ball fell to Batteer, who lashed a first-time volley into the right-hand side of the goal. Ripping off his shirt in jubilance and mobbed by teammates, Hauser made sure his celebration showed how important a victory this was to Stanford after it had been so close to slipping through their fingers.
The Cardinal will welcome the fourth-ranked UCLA Bruins next Friday night in a return to conference play. The match is scheduled to begin at Cagan Stadium at 6 p.m.
Contact Dylan Fugel at dfugel ‘at’ stanford.edu.