Sports

No. 15 Stanford men continue best soccer start in 12 years

 

Zach Batteer scored his first goal of the season, Brandon Vincent added a goal in his third straight game and the 15th-ranked Stanford men's soccer team downed visiting San Diego State, 2-0, in a Pac-12 Conference contest Thursday night.

The Cardinal (2-1 Pac-12, 8-2 overall) is off to its best start since winning nine of its first 10 games in 2002, the last time the program advanced to the NCAA College Cup.

"They've worked incredibly hard as individual athletes, but even more so as a team to understand what we're trying to do," Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said. "These things take time to click. It won't always click, but tonight's first-half performance was truly dominant against a very, very good team."

Batteer used his patented run to the end line to free up freshman Foster Langsdorf for a chance in the box that went wide 21 seconds into the game.

Austin Meyer had an attempt blocked, Ty Thompson sent one a bit outside the post, a Batteer header went wide and Langsdorf sent one high all within the game's first 20 minutes.

Batteer used his first errant header as a test run, successfully scoring in the 22nd minute on a picturesque dive. Austin Meyer settled the ball just behind midfield and sent Jimmy Callinan on a surging run down the right flank. Callinan whipped in a cross to the back post and perfectly on to Batteer's forehead.

"Zach has had a goal coming for him for a long time," Callinan said. "It's been a few games now. He definitely deserved that one and the team did as well. We were working towards that. The easy ones that don't go in, that'll happen, but Zach's goal was a goal scorer's goal. That was quality."

In the opening 45 minutes, Stanford outshot the Aztecs, 10-3, won six corners to their one and continually possessed and relentlessly pressed the ball forward. The numbers were just as lopsided at the final whistle: 21 to five in shots, four to zero in shots-on-goal and nine to one in corners.

Vincent sealed it in the 72nd, using his cannon of a left leg to rocket a shot under the cross bar and through the hand of San Diego State keeper Adam Allmaras. It was the captain's team-leading fifth goal of the season and the sixth of his career after entering 2014 with just one score in 38 previous matches.

"The fullbacks have been playing with incredible maturity," Gunn said. "They're absolutely rock solid defensively and are also flying into the attack and enjoying getting forward. Right now you can't get the ball off Brandon. He just wants to take shots. If the keeper hadn't gotten in the way of his shot I think it would still be traveling right now. It was an absolute rocket."

While Vincent was adding to the attack, he was also leading a robust defensive effort for the Cardinal. San Diego State tallied five shots, but each lacked any real quality.

Stanford returns to the pitch on Sunday at 5 p.m. when it hosts No. 2 UCLA in a match televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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