Eric Verso’s 47th-minute header was the difference Sunday at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium as Stanford shutout Colgate 1-0 for its fourth consecutive victory.
The Stanford forward ended a scramble in front of the goal that began with Ty Thompson’s corner kick. Thompson’s kick sailed to the far end of the box where JJ Koval headed into the six-yard box towards Jordan Morris, whose effort was stopped by Colgate goalkeeper Liam Stapleton. The Raider keeper, however, could not contain the rebound and Verso nodded home for the game’s decisive score.
The Cardinal has now won four straight matches for the first time since Sept. 16-26, 2010 and will go for five in a row next Friday at 7 p.m. at UC Santa Barbara. The last time Stanford won five straight was during the 2009 season when the Cardinal reeled off six in a row from Sept. 4-27.
Sunday the Cardinal again controlled the majority of possession, outshooting the Raiders by a 14-5 margin and taking eight corner kicks to just one for Colgate. The Cardinal defense also flexed its muscle as goalkeeper Drew Hutchins needed only to make two saves to preserve his third clean sheet of the year and second in a row.
On the attack Stanford created numerous chances with the first serious opportunity coming in the 27th minute. Verso was the aggressor, deftly moving his way towards center at the edge of the box then hitting a low shot from his left foot which forced Stapleton low to his left to knock it away. Koval and Morris would swarm the rebound just feet from the post but Stapleton would recover enough to stop Morris’ point-blank shot.
Koval’s header wide off of a 34th-minute corner and Brandon Vincent’s rocket that went high over the goal 34 seconds short of the break were the best chances for either team in a first half that featured just seven combined shots from the teams.
Verso’s goal just two minutes into the second half opened up the contest as Colgate nearly replied in kind a minute later. Ethan Kutler’s shot forced a nice save from Hutchins and the Cardinal defense did well to clear out the resulting corner kick.
Stanford would get multiple chances to double its lead just two minutes later in a sequence that began with Morris forcing Stapleton into action yet again. The ensuing Cardinal corner kick from Thompson found the head of Matt Taylor, whose effort was saved by Stapleton who couldn’t corral the rebound, and Verso belted the loose ball past Stapleton but off the post, narrowly missing his second of the match.
Koval forced another save out of Stapleton, who was kept busy all day while making seven stops, in the 55th minute, and Zach Batteer got the ball in another scramble in front of the goal and sent his shot over the crossbar in the 63rd minute.
Colgate would end up with just two more shots after Kutler’s effort in the 48th minute, as Nick Arpey’s shot went wide in the 85th minute and Geinda Smith sent one high four minutes before full time.