Zach Batteer’s brace, capped with a 97th-minute blast, snapped Stanford’s three-match winless drought and sent the Cardinal to a 2-1 overtime victory over San Francisco Friday night at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
The win was the first for the Cardinal (7-4-2) since a 2-1 win over Oregon State on Oct. 6, ending an 0-2-1 run. It also improved the Cardinal to 6-1-1 in non-conference play in 2013. San Francisco fell to 5-7-2 with the loss.
“We came out in tremendous fashion, went after them, we played some wonderful soccer. We moved the ball and I couldn’t have been happier with how we played” said Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn. “We deserved the one-nil lead and looked comfortable with things but, you know, soccer’s a cruel game. San Francisco stayed in it and they got a good chance and finished it.”
Stanford continues its homestand next Friday, Nov. 1, opening the second half of Pac-12 play with No. 4 UCLA at 6 p.m. The match will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Network.
It was a well-deserved win for the Cardinal Friday, as the squad enjoyed a large majority of the possession and controlled the pace throughout much of the match. The match was played chiefly in the USF half as the Cardinal outshot the Dons 24-12 and forced San Francisco goalkeeper Chase Hauser into seven saves.
“It feels amazing [to get the win], we’ve worked so hard all year, and when you have some heartbreaking results it can get you down but our team is resilient, we take that personality from what Jeremy [Gunn] represents,” Batteer said.
Credit would have to go to Ty Thompson in helping create each Cardinal goal, as the midfielder ignited each scoring sequence. Just past the hour mark Thompson’s hustle kept the Cardinal in possession and he fed Jordan Morris clear up the right flank, where the Cardinal freshman’s shot from a tough angle was parried by Hauser right into the path of Batteer who nodded home the rebound for the opener.
Seven minutes into overtime it would be Thompson serving a dangerous cross towards net that brought Hauser out of position to punch out. The loose ball would head right into Batteer’s path where the forward lashed home into the open net for the winner and his seventh goal of the season.
“I was in the right place at the right time, the last one JJ [Koval] got up really well and it just came to me and I was able to do my job,” Batteer said of the winner.
Between the two goals the Cardinal did endure a nervy stretch where San Francisco finally found the initiative. The Dons finished a good buildup in the 78th minute when Jesus Del Toro finished a loose ball when Miguel Aguilar’s header was rolling short of the line. USF would push and bend the Cardinal defense over the final 12 minutes of regulation and into overtime, but Drew Hutchins made an outstretched save in the 94th minute to shut the door on the Dons. It was the fourth save of the night for Hutchins, with all coming after halftime.
“San Francisco, they stayed in it, they stayed within touching distance and they got a good chance and finished it. It rocked us a little bit,” Gunn noted. “We’ve had some tough breaks lately even though we’ve been playing well. We didn’t respond that well [after the goal] and San Francisco was back in a game in which we were very much ahead on points, really.
“But in overtime the players responded fantastically. We looked bright, went after them, but then they had a fantastic chance and Drew made a world-class save. It kept us in it and we went after them again and Zach smashed home with his right foot. On the night, it was a fair result and one we needed, really.”
Aguilar had found his way past a turned-around Cardinal defense and played a wide-open Danny Kirkland about 12 yards out and to Hutchins’ right, but the Cardinal keeper leaped and was able to palm Kirkland’s blast over the crossbar and out. Stanford would clear out the ensuing corner kick without trouble and the offense would reassert control, leading to Batteer’s winner.
The excitement of the match’s final 30 minutes belied what had been a methodical pace over the match’s first 40 minutes. Hutchins was rarely bothered except for a 32nd-minute corner kick that Aguilar tipped wide.
Other than that chance it was all Stanford. The Dons sat back with seven men in the defensive third, and the Cardinal spent the first half probing its way around, looking for openings. Aaron Kovar and Batteer each forced a save from Hauser in the opening seven minutes, but it would take another 30 before the Cardinal was able to create more serious chances.
JJ Koval, who took six shots on the night, had two good looks go just wide of the goal a minute apart, then, in a nice buildup from Ty Conklin and Kovar, sent a one-time right into the hands of Hauser in the 42nd minute. That would be the last real chance for either side in the half as it remained scoreless at the break.
Stanford continued to knock on the door as the second half got underway, with Koval getting another chance at goal only to be denied again by Hauser. Hutchins was called into action for the first time in the 58th minute, rushing back into position to eat up an Aguilar attempt.
Seven minutes later Batteer would get the breakthrough for the Cardinal, heading home the rebound from Morris’ effort. The goal, though, would shake the Dons to action, as USF began throwing numbers into the Cardinal defensive third. The efforts culminated in the 78th minute when the Cardinal struggled to clear the ball from the perimeter and Del Toro finished Aguilar’s header in traffic.
Hutchins would make one more key save in the 89th minute, denying Liam Kelly, followed by the Cardinal avoiding another late heartbreak by clearing out the ensuing corner.
The Cardinal goalkeeper would follow with his 94th-minute heroics to steady the Cardinal ship and three minutes later Batteer ensured that the Cardinal would leave with its rightful spoils.
“We just needed that to give the players a reward for how well they’re playing,” Gunn said. “There’s no doubt we’ve been playing great soccer and we’re putting ourselves in awesome positions, so tonight we put ourselves in position to win the game and got our just rewards.”