Sports


Morris scores twice to lead Stanford men into NCAA quarterfinal

 

The senior class has been building up to this since they arrived at Stanford in the fall of 2012, and they've succeeded in their mission: going where no Cardinal men's soccer team has gone for the past 13 years.

"It's awesome to go out like this," Stanford senior Eric Verso said. "We're fitter, we're stronger, we're sharper and we've been building all season for this. We're not afraid of any team. We'll go play and see what happens."

Jordan Morris scored twice and Corey Baird added another goal as seventh-ranked Stanford downed visiting No. 14 Ohio State, 3-1, in the third round of the NCAA tournament Sunday.

The Cardinal (16-2-2) advance to its first quarterfinal since reaching the championship game in 2002. Stanford travels to No. 1 overall seed Wake Forest (16-2-2) next weekend.

"We're ready 100 percent," Morris said. "Obviously they are a great team but we're ready to go there and do great."

Verso and his fellow seniors Brandon Vincent and Slater Meehan have set the foundation and offered leadership to a group that went through a coaching change and came out with the mental toughness that has led the Cardinal to where they are.

"You hope they buy in first," Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said. "Then you start building, trying to get to the tournament and then becoming a regular in the tournament. This team and this program have matured. They are playing well right now and are excited about moving forward. This isn't a bad Senior Night for them."

Morris, a member of the United States national team, gave the Cardinal a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute, with a beautiful run and pass from Verso, who recorded his team-leading 12th assist.

"That was a great run by Jordan," said Verso, who came to Stanford in the fall of 2011. "It was a great touch and finish by him."

The Buckeyes (13-7-3), champions of the Big 10, scored the equalizer nine minutes later.

Morris added the game winner in the 78th minute on a play rarely seen at any level. Freshman Amir Bashti, keeping control of the ball in a crowd before slipping it to Morris, who used the outside of his foot to bend the ball into the upper corner of the net.

"That was a tremendous performance by him," Gunn said. "You saw an electrifying performance. He was always causing trouble. He was always lively."

Morris has scored 10 goals on 51 shots and recorded three assists for 23 total points and he's done it in 15 games. He missed the other five due to his commitment to the national team during qualifying for the Olympics.

"We're a well-rounded team full of good players," Verso said. "What he is able to give us is special moments that no one else in college soccer can do. He was spectacular. He put on a show."

Morris returned from a stint with the national team in time to play against Santa Clara and then had enough time to recover to produce his masterpiece.

"When you have to travel a bunch you can get worn out," he said. "This game I felt great. The first goal, all the credit goes to Verso."

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