Less than 24 hours removed from winning its first Pac-12 championship in 13 years, the Stanford men's soccer team received the No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament when the bracket was announced on Monday morning.
The 48-team field has 16 seeded squads, of which the Cardinal is one, that receive byes into the second round. Stanford (13-2-3) will host the winner of UC Irvine (14-5-3) and UNLV (14-4-3) at Cagan Stadium, where it has yet to lose this season, on Sunday at 5 p.m. This will be Stanford's 13th NCAA tournament appearance and second consecutive.
The Cardinal is 15-11-3 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 9-1-3 at home, advancing on penalty kicks in two out of those three draws. It has advanced past the second round in each of its past five trips to the postseason. Stanford is ranked No. 3 in the latest NSCAA coaches' poll is No. 2 in the RPI, both released early last week.
"It's just one game of soccer," Gunn said of his postseason approach. "It doesn't matter where you're seeded or where you're playing. All that matters is that you play your best and try to keep advancing."
Stanford finished its regular season 13-2-3 overall and 6-1-3 in league action. The Cardinal, which began its Pac-12 schedule with two wins, a loss and three draws finished 4-0 down the stretch to seal the title. Redshirt senior Austin Meyer's winner in the 103rd minute at Cal on Sunday afternoon pulled Stanford to the top of the conference table with 21 points, one point clear of UCLA. It was just the program's second Pac-12 championship and first since 2001.
"We all really pushed ourselves to develop as a team and we showed it this year," senior captain Jimmy Callinan said. "We had a rocky start in losing our first game, but from that moment on we said, 'No more excuses, we're going to win this thing.' We just kept going one game at a time and eventually we got that win."
A win on Sunday would enable Stanford to host either No. 11 Providence (13-4-2), Fordham (8-8-4) or Dartmouth (11-4-2) the following Sunday, Nov. 30.
Much of what the Cardinal has accomplished this season hearkens to 2002, the year of its last NCAA College Cup appearance. Stanford's 13 wins are its highest regular-season total since that 2002 campaign (14), which is also the last time it has had as potent of an offense. The Cardinal's 34 goals through 18 games are its most since 2002, as well.
Last year, Stanford made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002 and defeated Loyola Marymount and No. 15 Cal State Northridge before falling 1-0 on a late goal at No. 2 Washington in the Round of 16.
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