After a brief hiatus from Pac-12 competition, the Stanford men’s soccer team (4-5-3, 1-3-1 Pac-12) will resume conference play as they host the San Diego State Aztecs (7-3-2, 2-3-0 Pac-12) on Thursday.
This season has not been a standard one for head coach Jeremy Gunn’s group, as evidenced by the Cardinal’s record. Just a season removed from a Pac-12 title, Stanford’s decline has been startling given the side returns nine of 11 starters, including reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year and redshirt senior forward Zach Ryan. The Cardinal’s eight year NCAA Tournament streak is in jeopardy.
Nevertheless, there have still been some big performers on the squad this year. Junior forward Ousseni Bouda leads the team in goals and assists, with four and nine apiece, respectively. Ryan is close behind, with three goals and five assists of his own. Rounding off Stanford’s attack this season has been senior midfielder Will Richmond. The Piedmont, Calif. native has recorded three goals and two assists.
On the defensive side, juniors Keegan Tingey and Keegan Hughes, sophomore Noah Adnan and redshirt senior Andrew Aprahamian make up the backline. Adnan has shown himself to be a threat off of set pieces, finding the back of the net twice so far this Fall. Redshirt sophomore Mark Fisher — last season’s Pac-12 Freshman of the Year — and junior Cam Cilley have been stalwarts in the midfield. Cilley was forced to miss Saturday’s match against Denver due to the two yellow cards he picked up against Oregon State, but he will make his return against San Diego State.
Although San Diego State sits ahead of the Cardinal in the conference standings, they have struggled recently. The Aztecs have dropped their last three Pac-12 games, to UCLA, Oregon State and Washington. This week’s game versus the Cardinal will be the Aztecs’ fifth straight game on the road. San Diego State has been led by sophomore midfielder Andre Ochoa, who has a team-leading five goals on the season. Freshman Alex Hjælmof and senior Tevenn Roux have also added a goal and three assists apiece.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the Cardinal and the Aztecs. The first meeting ended with a Roux goal in the second overtime to give San Diego State a 1-0 win. Stanford will surely be looking to get one back over its Pac-12 foe.
Despite the Aztecs’ recent struggles, they still pose a threat to the Cardinal. Stanford will need its attack to be firing on all cylinders, and its backline to come ready to play. Stanford needs to take advantage of every opportunity it can get if it wants to get back to the NCAA Tournament.
Kick off at Cagan Stadium is set for 8 p.m. PT on Thursday.