Sports

Stanford men's soccer a victory away from College Cup

 

Stanford takes aim at securing its first trip to the College Cup, the men's soccer version of the Final Four, in 13 years on Saturday as the seventh-ranked Cardinal (16-2-2) travels to top-ranked and top-seeded Wake Forest (17-2-2) at 4 p.m.

It will, of course, take a complete team effort against the Deacon Demons, who are in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2009. Wake Forest is 4-0 in it previous appearances in the Elite Eight.

Stanford is 2-0 against Wake Forest, though the teams haven't met in 20 years. Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn previously was at Charlotte from 2007-11. While with the 49ers, Gunn beat Wake Forest by 3-1 in 2009 and 2-0 in 2010 in his only two tries.

The Cardinal is 17-12-3 all-time in the NCAA tournament, 4-7 on the road and 3-1 in the quarterfinal.

"Communication is the key," Cardinal junior forward Jordan Morris said. "We've built up that connection, and that's great for this time of the year."

The Deacons advanced with a 1-0 victory over Indiana, scoring in the 88th minute. Stanford beat Ohio State, 3-1, to make it to the quarterfinal as Morris scored twice.

"We've been building all season for this," Stanford senior Eric Verso said. "We're not afraid of any team. We'll go play and see what happens."

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.

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

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 and Vincent were named two of 15 semifinalists for the men's 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy on Tuesday.

Morris, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, is ninth in the country in game-winning goals (5), 15th in goals per game (0.67), 14th in points per game (1.53) and earlier this season scored in five straight matches, becoming just the second Stanford player to do that since 1987.

Gunn this week was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Far West Region Coach of the Year.

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