Aug. 14, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford kicked off the 2012 season with an impressive 3-0 win over Sacramento State in exhibition play on Tuesday night under the lights at Cagan Stadium. After a slow start, the Cardinal played some inspired soccer to dominate play for the final 65 minutes.
"I wasn't happy with how we started the game," said head coach Jeremy Gunn. "I didn't think we were putting Sac State under enough pressure. We allowed them to play a little bit too much."
The game changed midway through the half when Gunn made some substitutions to light a fire under the Cardinal. The group of reserves, led by freshmen midfielder Aaron Koval and redshirt sophomore Austin Meyer immediately began to change the pace of the game.
"The players that came in midway through the first half really turned the game around," said Gunn. "We were being outshot and outplayed. Then we just completely took over the game. From the 25th minute on we were the better team."
Despite Stanford taking over the run of play, the game remained scoreless until the 42nd minute when another substitute, Ty Thompson, got the Cardinal on the board. Kovar took the ball down the left wing and with some fancy footwork created space the send a low ball into the box. The ball skipped through the defense and found an opportunistic Thompson ready to finish with just one touch.
The goal rewarded the Cardinal for its effort over the final 20 minutes of the half and it would go on to dominate from there. After managing just seven shots in the first half (to seven from Sacramento State), the Cardinal would outshoot the Hornets 18-2 in the final period.
"Once we got the upper hand, I thought we played some really fluent, attacking soccer," said Gunn. "Lesson learned on how to start the game, but I was really pleased with the final three quarters of it."
The Cardinal extended its lead to 2-0 in the 66th minute when Kovar was the recipient of a brilliant pass from Adam Jahn. Jahn tracked down a through ball and played a cross back through the box to the freshman who calmly struck the ball low and into the corner for his first goal at Stanford.
Kovar finished with a goal and an assist and was part of a freshman class that had 10 shots in all, including the first two goals.
Stanford would put away the game in the 81st minute when Hunter Gorskie headed home a Dersu Abolfathi corner kick. The duo of seniors made sure the upperclassmen were to be heard from as Gorskie battled defenders in traffic to redirect a perfectly placed ball from Abolfathi.
Gorskie also captained the defense that did not allow much in the way of chances for Sacramento State. Drew Hutchins kept a clean sheet for the first half, while Jason Dodson and Preston Langholz finished off the shutout. Hutchins and Dodson made just one save apiece as the Cardinal backline kept most danger away from the goal.
Next up for the Cardinal will be Saint Mary's in the second and final exhibition game. The preseason 18th ranked Gaels will come to Cagan Stadium Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.