Sports

Verso comes up big for Cardinal men in soccer upset

 

Eric Verso continued his strong start, Corey Baird found his first career goal with a game-winner in the 66th minute and the 24th-ranked Stanford men's soccer team used a gritty performance to notch its biggest win of the season to date, a 2-1 decision over No. 11 Delaware at Cagan Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Stanford has won four in a row and sits at 5-1 overall. It was the Cardinal's first win over a ranked opponent in nonconference play since a 2-0 victory at No. 11 UC Irvine on Sept. 7, 2012.

A stalemate in the game's first 45 minutes was broken, not with a goal, but with the heady, workmanlike play of midfielder Ty Thompson.

The junior, who earned his first start of the season, won the ball slightly across midfield, slipped past his Delaware defender and was brought down from behind as he started the break at 52:07.

The Hens' Thibault Philippe was issued a red card for the tackle, which gave Stanford a man advantage for the final 38 minutes.

"What wins us the game is Ty Thompson getting a great step in, working hard defensively, winning the ball and getting brought down," Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said. "That completely changes the game. We didn't score off the free kick, but once we were a man up we really took the initiative. I was impressed with the way we then got settled and started to dominate possession of the ball."

Verso's free kick went wide, but he wouldn't be denied, freeing himself to record his third goal of the season less than two minutes later.

Brandon Vincent, who has scored a goal in the past two matches, took the ball to the near corner. A slight hesitation gave him a window to whip in a pass to Jordan Morris, whose flick of the heel found Verso right in front to put the Cardinal up, 1-0.

Verso's team-leading third goal of the season was the ninth of his career.

The Blue Hens responded shortly thereafter, playing the angles perfectly. A Stanford foul gave Delaware a free kick in front of the Cardinal bench, which they started quickly.

"We were thoroughly deserving of going a goal up, but then they score a good return goal," Gunn said. "It was a quick free quick, but the player got sent on such a tight line, I thought we had done enough to force him wide. It's a tremendous finish from that angle and we're back into a fight."

Baird answered the call with some brilliant play for the go-ahead goal. Morris controlled in front of the box and found the freshman, who drove right at Delaware keeper Borja Barbero and chipped it over from just inside the six-yard box for his first career goal.

"It's a really impressive win for us," Gunn said. "Delaware played an excellent game. It was one of those at halftime that truly hangs in the balance and is there for the stronger team to go after. We wanted the guys to just settle down and play through the pressure a bit more and we really did that well in the second half."

Defensively, keeper Andrew Epstein made four saves for the second consecutive game. The sophomore, along with Stanford's back line, was aided by the pressure applied on the ball from the Cardinal's front six, which worked tirelessly against a talented passing team.

Stanford is now 5-0-2 in its last seven home games and 18-0-3 when scoring at least two goals under Gunn.

The Cardinal completes the nonconference portion of its schedule at home on Friday against Gonzaga at 7 p.m.

Men's water polo

Following an 11-8 semifinal victory over No. 4 California in the morning, the No. 1 Stanford men's water polo team came up short for the first time in 2014 in the evening, falling to No. 2 UCLA, 9-7, to finish second at the Kap7 NorCal Classic in Stockton.

Alex Bowen scored eight goals over the two-day event and now has 199 in his career, fifth on rhe all-time scoring list. Only four others have scored more at Stanford: Tony Azevedo (2001-04), James Bergeson (1979-82), Jody Campbell (1978-81) and Wolf Wigo (1991-94).

The Cardinal is 6-1 as it heads to Davis for the Aggie Shootout with matchups scheduled against Chapman and Occidental on Saturday and No. 16 Navy and No. 20 Whittier on Sunday.

Field hockey

A strong defensive effort and goals by Fran Tew and Clemence Couteau lifted No. 8 Stanford to a 2-1 victory over visiting California Sunday at the Varsity Turf.

It was the sixth straight win for the Cardinal (8-1, 1-0 NorPac West) against the Golden Bears (5-3, 1-1 NorPac) and 15th victory in the past 19 matchups.

Facing a 1-0 deficit midway through the first half, Stanford rallied for two goals to gain the advantage and momentum into halftime.

Alex McCawley helped generate the scoring opportunity on the first goal when she used crafty stickhandling within the semicircle to draw a penalty corner.

On the ensuing penalty corner, Elise Ogle fed a nice pass to Tew on the left side of the goal. Tew took a touch to control the pass then fired a hard shot to the lower left-hand corner of the goal that deflected off California's goalkeeper and into the back of the cage.

Couteau scored her second game-winning goal on the season less than 12 minutes later when she received a pass from Kasey Quon, made a move to her backhand and fired it into the goal. Couteau has taken three shots this season and two have been game-winners.

Stanford will look to carry its momentum into next weekend when it faces off against defending national champion Connecticut on Friday at 3 p.m. (PT). The Cardinal will play six of its next seven games away from The Farm.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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