Two weeks ago the Stanford's men's soccer team was playing just to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament. After beating host California, 3-2, in double-overtime Sunday, the No. 3 Cardinal can expect a No. 1 seed.
Stanford (6-1-3 in the Pac-12, 13-2-3 overall) captured the Pac-12 Conference championship with the victory and is rated second, behind UCLA, in the NCAA men's soccer RPI.
There will be a lot of interested people watching for the results of Monday's 10 a.m. selection show streaming live on NCAA.com.
Stanford never trailed in the game, but the 15th-ranked Golden Bears made sure the Cardinal stayed uncomfortable throughout the contest.
California entered the game as the nation's top scoring offense. The Golden Bears didn't get the chance to even things up after the final play of the regular season gave Stanford just its second conference title and the first since 2001.
Stanford's Austin Meyer scored in the 103rd minute, driving a grounder into the right corner after two great passes set him up in the box.
The fifth-year senior, already a Stanford grad and working toward his master's in journalism, delivered the game winner while tumbling backwards.
Cardinal senior Zach Batteer started the scoring sequence when he took control of the ball at the top of the box and flipped a backward pass to freshman Corey Baird.
Baird darted into the scrum with a series of dribbles and threaded the needle at an almost impossible angle to Meyer camped in front of goal. His winner, just the third goal of his career, found its way past Alex Mangels and capped off Stanford's magical regular season.
"At the beginning of overtime I went over to my center-mid partner Ty Thompson, who usually has a bit more freedom to go forward while I quarterback in front of our back line and I told him, 'I'm feeling a shot, just let me get forward a little bit and you hold for me'," Meyer said. "He let me do that, Corey slipped me a great pass and then it was just instinct from there."
Baird was also involved in helping the Cardinal take a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute. He took a shot to the center of the net that glanced off Mangels' foot and straight to foot of Eric Verso, who was able to chip in the rebound against an open net.
"It does so much for our confidence heading into the tournament," Meyer said. "This team has been on such a journey ever since we started. We lost our first game and had to band together. We knew this was going to be an incredibly difficult conference and it proved to be that. It was going to come down to the last minute and that's what happened."
After Cal tied the game at 1, Thompson and Brian Nana-Sinkam combined to put the Cardinal ahead again, with Nana-Sinkam becoming the 13th different Stanford player to record a goal.
Cal responded with a tying goal in the 75th minute, setting up the dramatic finish.
"It was a great game by two outstanding teams," California coach Kevin Grimes said. "The game could have gone either way. It was a fantastic way to end our season with the performance that we had."
Stanford improved to 7-0-7 in its past 14 overtime matches dating to November of 2012.
No. 8 Stanford's record-breaking season came to a close in Sunday's 3-1 loss to host No. 3 Connecticut in the quarterfinal of the NCAA tournament in Storrs, Conn.
The Cardinal (19-3) produced its best season in program history, including its first NCAA tournament victory, setting program records in victories (19), winning-streak (12 games) and national ranking (No. 3). Stanford went 4-1 against the top 10 and 6-2 against the top 20.
The Cardinal's defense was terrific all year and ranked first in goals-against average and save percentage for nearly every week during the season. Stanford limited opponents to one goal or less in 20 of 22 games.
Stanford's senior class leaves the team as the most accomplished group ever, accumulating a 68-19 record during their four years.
The Cardinal had its opportunities in Sunday's game against Connecticut (18-3) but could not find the final touches needed to level the score. It was only the second time Stanford allowed two or more goals and the first time permitting three scores this season.
Stanford found itself in a hole early when Connecticut's Casey Umstead got the Huskies on the board 80 seconds into the game. She received a pass from Olivia Bolles in transition and snuck a shot past Dulcie Davies in goal for the Cardinal.
Davies played well, making multiple diving and sprawling saves, and was a major factor in keeping the Cardinal within striking distance. She finished the game with six stops, five of which came in the first half.
Stanford settled in nicely after the goal and did well to maintain possession and generate pressure in Connecticut's zone.
The Huskies extended their lead to 2-0 in the 34th minute when it rallied for three consecutive penalty corners, converting on its third opportunity.
Stanford came out quick in the second half and almost cut the Huskies' lead to 2-1 in the 36th minute on a penalty corner opportunity. After a series of passes between Kelsey Harbin and Jessica Chisholm at the top of the circle, Harbin sent a cross-cage pass that found its way into the back of the net but hit a Stanford foot on the way to negate the score.
The game opened up in the second half with both teams generating scoring opportunities. Connecticut extended its lead to 3-0 at 60:05 when Charlotte Veitner tipped in a pass from Roisin Upton on a penalty corner.
Stanford continued to battle and earned a penalty stroke a minute later. Harbin converted the opportunity to cut the lead to 3-1, her third goal on the season.
The Cardinal almost cut the lead to 3-2 with six minutes remaining when Katie Keyser made a run down the middle of the field and slid a pass to Alex McCawley on the right post that she nearly got her stick on to tip into an empty net.
Stanford continued to pressure but could not find the shots needed to close the gap.
The future is bright for the Stanford program with 17 letter-winners returning next season, including a talented junior class and strong core of underclassmen.
Nineteen members of the Stanford wrestling team competed in the Roadrunner Open, Sunday, at Selland Arena in Fresno. Seven Cardinal finished in the top 6, including three runners-up.
True freshman Mason Pengilly took second at 125 pounds. A native of Porterville, Calif., Pengilly went 4-1 in the tournament, falling in the championship to Oregon State's Ronnie Bresser.
Redshirt sophomore Maxwell Hvolbek finished second at 157 pounds with a 3-1 performance.
He opened the tournament with an 18-2 technical fall before registering a decision and win by injury default. He lost a 9-6 decision to No. 11 Isaiah Martinez of Illinois in the finals.
Redshirt sophomore Jim Wilson, ranked 14th nationally, reached the finals at 165 pounds with a fall and three decisions before dropping a 10-4 match to 13th-ranked Jackson Morse of Illinois.
Redshirt freshmen Keaton Subjeck and Nathan Butler took third for the Cardinal at 174 and 285 pounds, respectively.
Subjeck tallied two falls in the tournament, before running into 12th-ranked Zac Brunson of Illinois.
In the consolation bracket, Subjeck registered another fall to reach the third-place bout. There, he turned in a 6-1 deicison over No. 18 Joe Latham of Oregon State.
Butler opened the tournament with a major decision and a fall before falling to Appalachian State's Denzel Dejournette, 5-3, in overtime. In the wrestlebacks, Butler tallied a decision and a major decision to capture third.
Redshirt junior Evan Silver won his first three matches of the day before having to medically forfeit the rest of the tournament.
His three wins put him in position to still finish in sixth-place. Redshirt freshman Garet Krohn also took sixth with a 4-3 mark.
Stanford stays on the road this week, traveling to Philadelphia for the Keystone Classic on Sunday.