College Soccer

Stanford roll over Akron 2-0 to reach the College Cup final

Photo: Rob Simmons

Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn has his team in familiar territory.

After a 2-0 victory over Akron on Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium, the Cardinal are in position to win their third consecutive national championship. Forward Foster Langsdorf opened the scoring with a wonderful header in the first half and midfielder Sam Werner added a second  in the 79th minute.

The story, though, was a defense that fuels their title success. MAC Hermann Trophy finalist Tomas Hilliard-Arce helped Stanford extend their NCAA tournament shutout streak to 11 matches spanning three seasons. The senior center back led a defense that shut down Akron’s third-highest scoring offense in the nation, led by senior forwards Sam Gainford and Stuart Holthusen.

Thirty-seven degree temperatures at kickoff couldn’t dampen the spirit of a boisterous contingent of Akron fans. Even during stretches of Stanford dominance, chants and cheers rung out from section 131.

The first chance of the game broke the Cardinal way in the opening minute. Stanford midfielder Jared Gilbey capitalized on an Akron turnover and unleashed a rocket from the top of the box. Only goalkeeper Ben Lundt’s diving save prevented a disastrous start for the Zips.

Stanford got their breakthrough in 25th minute. Lancaster, Pa. native Drew Skundrich knocked down an errant Akron pass in the final third and slipped a pass to senior forward Corey Baird down the right flank. With acres of space, Baird found a familiar target in the box in fellow senior forward Foster Landsdorf. The first team All-American’s spectacular diving header beat Lundt and gave Stanford the 1-0 lead.

Akron were somehow denied an equalizer in the 61st minute. Forward David Egbo found space in the box and fired a shot from the penalty spot. Stanford’s redshirt senior goalkeeper Nico Corti did well to come off his line and make a point blank save, but the real danger was still to come. The rebound careened into the path Akron left back Niko De Vera who was left unchallenged with what appeared to be an open net. Somehow, Corti scrambled to his feet and denied the Zips again in a spectacular sequence.

Despite the momentary danger, the second half fell into a familiar pattern for the two-time defending champs. The Cardinal began sat back, inviting pressure without conceding any real chances. From there, they could launch quick counterattacks as Akron pressed forward.

And a quick counterattack was exactly what the Stanford supporters saw in the 79th minute. As the boys from Palo Alto sprung forward, a loose pass caromed off the heels of an Akron defender. Unfortunately for the Zips, it fell into the path of Portland Timbers product Sam Werner. The midfielder drifted left before firing a shot across his body into the far right corner of the net. It was an insurance goal Stanford would not need.

Stanford has one last hurdle before claiming a spot in history. Virginia is the only school in history to win three or more consecutive national championships.

With a win on Sunday, Stanford would become the second.

The College Cup championship will be decided at 1 p.m. this Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium. Stanford will take on the winner of tonight’s match between North Carolina and Indiana.

One Comment

  1. Sugarman is cheap.

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