By Ells Boone
Stanford men’s soccer (6-6-6, 2-4-4 Pac-12) wrapped up its regular season with a 1-1 draw against rival Cal (3-9-3, 1-6-1 Pac-12). With the tie, the Cardinal finished fourth in the Pac-12 out of six teams. The Golden Bears end their campaign in dead last. This was a devastating result for Stanford’s postseason hopes, as they will now most likely be on the outside looking in when the NCAA Tournament bracket is released on Monday.
“Bitterly disappointed with the tie today. I think we started well, looked the better team, then we gave up a goal which gave Cal a bit more confidence,” said head coach Jeremy Gunn after the draw. “I think a win today would have put us in a fantastic position for the playoffs but I think the tie now makes us definitely a long shot.”
As Gunn stated, the Cardinal started out positively but found themselves behind after not too long. In the 19th minute, Cal’s fifth-year defender Christopher Grey received the ball just outside the box, tapped the ball around Stanford sophomore defender Ryan Dunn and swiftly flicked it past the keeper into the back of the net.
The one goal lead would last for the rest of the half. In the opening period, Cal outshot Stanford 6-5.
After the break, the Cardinal struck quickly. Junior forward Gabe Segal picked out a cross from the right side of the field that looked like it was going to float out of play. However, junior forward Ousseni Bouda got his head to the ball on the end line, directing his shot to the opposite post and it went in. Bouda closes the regular season with a final contribution of five goals and nine assists. Stanford was back in the match.
The Cardinal would fight for the rest of the match for the go-ahead goal, yet to no avail. In the second half, Stanford outshot Cal 14-0 and also won that statline in both overtime periods.
With their season most likely over, the Cardinal players and coaches alike will be left figuring out where exactly things went wrong. Just last season, the team won the Pac-12 title in dramatic fashion against Washington and was a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. The program also returned nine of 11 starters from that team while also re-introducing Bouda, arguably the team’s most talented player.
The team’s defense was solid throughout this fall, but its attack did not quite hit the same heights as it did the previous spring. Redshirt senior Zach Ryan, last year’s Pac-12 Player of the Year, only scored five goals this campaign, half of his 2020 total in which he played three less games than he did this term. Segal and senior midfielder Will Richmond also did not put up the same numbers as they did in 2020.
It remains to be seen who exactly the Cardinal will lose from their current roster, but there is no doubt that there is plenty of talent still in the program. Gunn has proven that he can consistently keep his program near the top of the sport, with this 2021 season likely just being a blip from the usual standard. Pending the results of Monday’s selection show, the next time Stanford returns to action could be in the 2022 season.