A year ago, a 3-1 opening day loss to SMU in Dallas would set the tone for Stanford men’s soccer’s disappointing fall campaign. This time around, the Cardinal (2-0-0, 0-0-0 Pac-12) exacted their revenge, taking down the Mustangs (1-1-0, 0-0-0 American) by the same scoreline Sunday at Cagan Stadium.
Redshirt junior forward Carlo Agostinelli provided the opener, while a pair of freshmen — forward Liam Doyle and midfielder Fletcher Bank — scored their first career goals. SMU fifth year midfielder Knut Ahlander’s 75th minute penalty provided a consolation prize for the Mustangs.
Carrying over from its season-opening win against Villanova, the Cardinal started off on the front foot, attacking the Mustangs from the opening whistle. Stanford took five shots in the opening 15 minutes, compared to SMU’s one, and the opener came in the 16th minute. The Mustangs were building out from the back when freshman defender Owen Zarnick paused on the ball for too long and had it swiped by Agostinelli. The Parisian would take on the SMU goalkeeper one-on-one, calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net.
It would not take long for the Cardinal to strike again. Just five minutes later, Agostinelli was back at it with the ball. He sent in a cross to the back post which the freshman Fletcher Bank attacked and headed into the goal. Bank has been a shining light for the Cardinal in their opening two matches and it was nice to see him rewarded with his first career Stanford goal.
From there, the action calmed down a bit but the Cardinal still stayed aggressive. In the 40th minute, junior midfielder Layton Purchase was fouled and earned a free kick for his team outside of the box. Doyle stepped forward to take it, having only been subbed on five minutes before. The Tokyo product lashed the ball off the bottom of the crossbar and into the goal. The Mustang goalkeeper was unable to come close to making a save. Another first tally for a Cardinal freshman, Doyle made sure his was done with some style.
Stanford dominated the first half, heading into the break having outshot SMU seven to three, and earning four corners to the Mustangs’ zero.
In the second half, SMU pushed for a way back into the match, while the Cardinal were unable to add to their three-goal lead. In the 75th minute, the Mustangs were provided a lifeline as senior defender Keegan Tingey recorded a foul in his own box. Ahlander stepped up to take the penalty and executed. Unfortunately for SMU, that was the only chance they were able to finish against a stout Stanford defense.
Head coach Jeremy Gunn will surely have been happy to see his team avenge a defeat from a year ago, as well as seeing significant contributions from a pair of his freshmen. The Cardinal starting lineup was unchanged from its season opener three days prior. The team will now get ready for its next match on Thursday against UC Davis (0-1-0, 0-0-0 Big West) at 3 p.m. The Aggies lost their only game of the season so far to No. 5 Oregon State (1-0-0, 0-0-0 Pac-12) 2-1.