Sports

Stanford men have an appointment in soccer's Sweet Sixteen

The Cardinal hosts Virginia next Sunday at 5 p.m.

Foster Langsdorf has scored 13 goals in 10 different men's soccer matches this season, averaging a goal every 4.23 shot attempts. He averages 2.89 shots a game.

He's scored in four of his last five games, including the game-winner in fifth-seeded Stanford's 2-0 victory over visiting Pacific in the second round of the NCAA tournament Sunday.


Tomas Hilliard-Arce. Photo by Jim Shorin
What is the probability Langsdorf will score a goal in Stanford's game against No. 12 Virginia next Sunday, when the Cavaliers travel outside of the Eastern Time Zone for the first time this season for a 5 p.m. start?

The answer really doesn't matter. Statistics can be used to prove a point or show a level of ability. When it comes to actual competition, there are so many variables it exhausts the brain.

Langsdorf won't be thinking about probability theory, at least not when he's on the field. He'll be in the moment doing whatever he can to guide the Cardinal (12-3-4) to a possible victory in the Sweet Sixteen.

"You saw (No.1 overall seed) Maryland get taken down," Langsdorf said. "The best team doesn't always win. The one thing you realize is that you have to be prepared for every game. You can't take a game off."

This comes from experience, even if what happened in the past has nothing to do with the present, that every year year, every contest is different. As the defending national champion, Stanford understands the process a little better than most.

Virginia (11-3-5) won the national title two years ago, beating UCLA on penalty kicks.

"Virginia has a great program and a wonderful history," Cardinal coach Jeremy Gunn said. "But it's this year's team against their current team. It's the here and now. We know what it's all about but that doesn't matter on game day. You have to execute your jobs."

Stanford opened aggressively against the Tigers and maintained pressure through the first 15 minutes.

"Our mentality was phenomenal. We came out assertive," Gunn said. "We were good for a goal ion the first 10-15 minutes but it didn't come. So you just keep going. Foster had the right attitude and it paid off with a great first goal."

Langsdorf took a pass from Amir Bashti into the penalty box and had his sights zeroed in on the net. The Pacific defender slipped on the wet turf (there was a constant drizzle through halftime), making it appear easier.

"It was the type of finish we practice a lot," Langsdorf said. "You try to win the ball at midfield and immediately counter attack. It was a great ball by Amir and a routine finish. I got a little lucky because I thought the keeper might be able to get a foot on it."

Andrew Epstein was called upon to make one great save, which he accomplished in the 63rd minute, to preserve the slim lead.

Stanford tacked on an important goal several minutes later when Tomas Hilliard-Arce used his head to redirect a Jared Gilbey corner kick.

"A lot of players had to step up this year," Gunn said. "There were great challenges for us. They have been absolutely magnificent."

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