No. 5 Stanford (9-2-4, 3-2-3 Pac-12) fell 21 to Oregon State (6-3-4, 2-1-3 Pac-12) in a cold Thursday night game. With No. 1 Washington (13-0-2, 5-0-1 Pac-12) looming on the weekend, the Cardinal weren’t able to convert their chances, faltering at an unfortunate time before their biggest match of the season.
Stanford came into the game red-hot, having won their last three games with two clean sheets, all on the road. Their success was in part due to redshirt freshman midfielder Shane de Flores, who was named the Pac-12 Men’s Soccer player of the week and was also named to both College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer’s men’s soccer team of the week.
The Cardinal began the match well, keeping the ball in the Beaver’s third and firing off a couple dangerous shots. In the 12th minute, senior defender Keegan Tingey drew a penalty, setting up senior midfielder Cam Cilley to put it away, putting Stanford up 1-0, a first-half advantage that has been hard to come by recently. But quickly after, Oregon State began to find their footing, keeping most of the possession and setting up shots. Stanford’s defense held strong into the break, however, putting in hard challenges, blocking shots and clearing the droves of crosses that found their way into the box.
Not much changed after halftime as the Beavers kept pressing, creating scoring chances every time they brought the ball into the opposing half and forcing saves from redshirt senior goalkeeper Matt Frank, including a show-stopper in the 54th minute to deny a two-on-one fast break. But just one minute later Oregon State found their break with a penalty from a Stanford handball in the box, slotted away calmly by Gael Gilbert as Frank guessed the wrong way.
The Cardinal seemed motivated by the equalizer, taking the game into their own hands and threatening the opponent’s goal with precise passing and well-placed crosses, including a stunning volleyed ball from Tingey that de Flores just couldn’t direct into the goal. Yet even while controlling the run of play, Stanford gave up opportunities, and the Beavers converted. In the 83rd minute, a deflected cross into the box found its way into the Stanford goal after junior defender Noah Adnan couldn’t clear it off of the line. The last seven minutes of the game consisted of long balls, free-kicks and corners desperately defended by Oregon State, who were able to come out victors after a hard-fought 90 minutes.
“Oregon State played very well. And the really disappointing thing is we didn’t assert ourselves,” said Knowles Family Director of Men’s Soccer Jeremy Gunn. “We didn’t play in the way we’ve been playing all season.”
Even in moments where Stanford had the upper hand, they never seemed to feel safe, playing passes too quickly and losing the ball too easily.
“At moments in the second half, it was a little bit better,” Gunn said. “We were a bit more assertive, but again, it just wasn’t good enough today. I think our guys have been amazing all season long with how consistent we’ve been. Tonight, we weren’t who we should be. So very, very disappointed.”
Sunday’s home matchup with Washington is crucial if the Cardinal still have hopes of a Pac-12 championship. The two teams’ last matchup was a 3-0 win for the Huskies, but Coach Gunn felt the score didn’t accurately reflect the game.
“The last time, we actually played quite well, and Washington just capitalized on good chances, Gunn said. “And so I think it’ll be another exciting game. I just hope that we get the attitude right for Sunday.”
Stanford will certainly have chances to win their game against Washington, but they need to turn up more motivated than they were Thursday. Gunn summed up his feelings on the match, saying: “Just disappointed with the performance and results tonight. And I think hopefully we can show the better side of ourselves on Sunday.”
Stanford plays Washington this Sunday. Kick off is set for at 4 p.m. PT at Cagan Stadium.