Stanford men’s soccer (3-3-1, 0-2-0 Pac-12) desperately needed to get back in the win column after dropping its first two matches of Pac-12 play and having not recorded a victory since Sept. 6. In a break from conference competition, the Cardinal did exactly what they needed to do, defeating UC Irvine (2-6-1, 0-0-0 Big West) 2-0 at Cagan Stadium.
Head coach Jeremy Gunn made one change to his last starting lineup, going with redshirt sophomore forward Carlo Agostinelli in place of junior forward Gabe Segal.
Play evolved into high gear quickly. Senior midfielder Will Richmond had a shot blocked by the UCI goalkeeper in the first minute. The ball fell for junior defender Keegan Tingey just outside of the box, but the Danville, Calif., native’s shot flew wide right of the goal.
Stanford kept pushing for the opener. Four minutes later, junior forward Ousseni Bouda’s free kick tapped past the keeper by redshirt senior defender Andrew Aprahamian. Before this season, Aprahamian had never scored a goal for the Cardinal; this season, he already has two.
In the 19th minute, it was the Anteaters’ turn to threaten the home team. Graduate student forward Ryan Khedoo’s shot struck the top of the crossbar — a close call for Cardinal redshirt junior goalkeeper Matt Frank.
Play would go back and forth for the next period of the game, until the 52nd minute when Stanford had another attacking chance. Richmond fired a close shot at UCI’s keeper, but it was well-saved. Six minutes later, redshirt senior forward Zach Ryan missed a shot from the middle of the box. Anteater freshman goalkeeper Luke Pruter used his leg to deflect the strike. Another chance would come in the 64th minute. Richmond made a run down the left side of the pitch before crossing it into the middle of the box where Ryan scuffed his attempt wide of the net.
Just a minute later, the Cardinal’s attacking trio was back at it again. Bouda sent in a cross from the right side of the field toward Ryan, who redirected the ball to Richmond. The senior was able to calmly slot the ball home to double his team’s lead. The insurance goal had been found.
UCI tried to look for a way back into the match, but to no avail. Stanford managed to create two more close-scoring chances, but failed to capitalize, with sophomore midfielder Aiden Weaver missing a shot in the 75th minute and a header attempt from sophomore defender Noah Adnan also flying wide of the mark.
After a rough start to conference play, the Cardinal can take a renewed confidence into their next match against Saint Mary’s on Monday at home. The match will kick off at 7 p.m. PT.