Aug. 18, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford completed a perfect exhibition season, defeating No. 18 Saint Mary's 1-0 on Saturday night at Cagan Stadium. The Cardinal got a late goal from Aaron Kovar to top the NCAA quarterfinalist from a year ago.
"It was a tremendous performance tonight," said head coach Jeremy Gunn. "Saint Mary's is a very good team, coming off an Elite 8 performance last year and was a stern test for us."
Both teams played to a physical 0-0 draw in the first half with Stanford outshooting the Gaels 7-3. Adam Jahn led the Cardinal offense with three shots in the half, but could not find the target early.
"We matched them physically," said Gunn. "They are a very strong and organized team and we stood up to them physically, which I was proud of. Then we really passed and moved the ball and at times played some tremendous soccer. If it wasn't for some last-ditch defending by them we might have opened up the scoring earlier."
The scoring came in the second half when Aaron Kovar tallied the game's only goal. Kovar received a ball on the left wing from Austin Meyer and cut inside to his right foot. Kovar shot from 20 yards and beat the Saint Mary's keeper to the near post.
The goal for Kovar was the second in as many games for Stanford in the exhibition season. He also added an assist in the Sacramento State game and is making a name for himself despite it being his rookie season.
"It was a great goal," said Gunn. "He is great at going outside, but he cut that one inside tremendously on his right and blasted it. It was a great strike and deserving of being the game-winner."
The Cardinal defense hung on from there as Drew Hutchins and Jason Dodson combined for the shutout. Hunter Gorskie captained the defense that has now strung together 180 scoreless minutes during exhibition play.
"It was a great all-around performance," said Gunn. "It certainly could be a confidence booster for the players. On another night, we might even have had a couple more. Saint Mary's is always dangerous on the set pieces, but the back four did great. We have managed to post two shutouts and really kept the goalkeepers fairly quiet."
Up next for the Cardinal will be the season opener at San Francisco. The yearly matchup against the Dons as part of the Bay Area Classic is set for Friday, August 24, at 7 p.m.
"There is a lot of improvement left in this team, but for this time of year these guys are playing really well," said Gunn. "You really see it in the second half of the last two games. These guys are enjoying themselves out there. They are attacking, passing and moving the ball. Really, they are just enjoying having a go at teams."