Oct. 18, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. -
Stanford Men's Soccer had seen this finish too many times. Outshoot your opponent, control the action, but be denied the win. Trailing 2-1 with less than five minutes to play, the Cardinal appeared doomed to another frustrating result. But in a memorable bit of resolve, JJ Koval and Adam Jahn scored 44 seconds apart in the 86th minute to flip the script and give Stanford a thrilling 3-2 win over Oregon State at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
Collecting the three points brought Stanford's (6-6-1, 3-2-1 Pac-12) Pac-12 total to 10 and held the Cardinal's spot in third on the conference table, three points back of Washington and two behind UCLA. The Cardinal aim for the weekend's maximum Sunday on the Pac-12 Networks when it hosts the Huskies at 3 p.m. for Senior Day. Stanford seniors Jahn, Dersu Abolfathi, Eric Anderson and Hunter Gorskie will be honored before the game.
"I'm really proud of the team today because it's that time of season where technically these aren't must-win games, but, they are," said Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn. "We're just at that stage now where we're constantly pushing and hopefully constantly improving. I think we deserved this reward tonight because we've had games like that in the season where we've outshot teams, had the most pressure, and we've come off feeling a little bit unlucky. The exciting thing tonight was that we created our own luck."
The Cardinal did much of that creating Thursday night, outshooting the Beavers 20-10, earning nine corners while conceding none, and coming back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 over the course of the match. And Stanford did it with a bit of a makeshift back line. With Brandon Vincent suspended for the match due to picking up a red card last Sunday at Washington, Gunn moved goalie Drew Hutchins out of the net and into the center back role, giving Jason Dodson his first start of the season in goal.
Although the Cardinal created two good chances in the opening two minutes, it was stunned against the run of play in the sixth minute when Oregon State's Khiry Shelton flicked an Emery Welshman cross past Dodson to open the scoring.
Stanford's astonishment would be short-lived as the Cardinal reassumed control, earning three corner kicks over the next 14 minutes. It would be on the third of those corners that the Cardinal would find an equalizer. Aaron Kovar swung the kick into the box, where Tyler Conklin used his head to glance the ball behind him to Zach Batteer who beat OSU keeper Matt Bersano in the 20th minute.
The Cardinal would outshoot the Beavers by a 6-0 margin over the final 25 minutes of the half but none of the efforts made it on frame, sending the teams into the break tied 1-1.
Koval would force Bersano into action 10 minutes into the second half, but at the hour mark Oregon State would steal the lead with another goal on the counterattack. This time it was Alex Penny playing a good ball through to Welshman for a 1-on-1 chance against Dodson. Welshman would lift his effort over the charging Cardinal keeper and watch it bounce into the back of the net, giving the Beavers a 2-1 advantage.
It was really frustrating, we'd really only given away two chances in the first 60 minutes, and Oregon State scored off both," Gunn said. "I thought we were a bit hard done to be 1-nil down then 2-1 because in the first half we played quite well and created some good chances. As the game went along it was really tough to go after them because every time they counterattacked they looked very dangerous. The middle of the second half was really tough going for us."
Stanford would get a save from Dodson in the 66th minute then be saved by the crossbar when Oregon State's Will Seymore struck the woodwork with a 76th-minute effort. Dodson would again keep the Cardinal in the match in the 85th minute with a fine save from Shelton's point-blank header.
The Cardinal finally got its well-deserved equalizer moments later on a scramble in the box. A scrum of players fought for a clear chance at goal and it appeared that Oregon State would come out with the upper hand. However, Koval hurled himself in front of the Beaver defender's attempted clearance, catching the blast full-on but with enough force to direct it past Bersano and into the net in the 86th minute.
"[JJ] was in the hospital until 2 a.m. after last week's Oregon State game and yet he's ready for this game," Gunn said. "We're thinking `let's see how he goes' and I just know with a guy like him he's got the heart of a lion, when he gets going he's not going to stop. I thought he was fantastic tonight."
Sensing the turn in momentum and deflation of the Beavers, Stanford aggressively pushed forward in an effort to make off with all three points. That effort would be rewarded 44 seconds later as a great ball was played through the top of the box to Anderson, who centered to a wide-open Jahn about 14 yards from goal. Jahn coolly slotted his effort home past Bersano for his eighth goal of the year, shell-shocking the Beavers.
"Adam is playing great up front and I thought today and in both games against Oregon State he really soaked the ball up well and helped us keep possession, create attacks and obviously he's scoring great goals as well," Gunn noted. "He got two against them last week and he got another one against them tonight. What better thing to do than hit a game-winner late in the game."
The defense would clamp down for the final four minutes, allowing just one OSU effort, a Welshman shot that went wide of goal, and the three points went to the Cardinal.
"Drew Hutchins filling in at center back did a fantastic job," Gunn added. "As a group it was a tremendous team effort and a huge win for us, especially when we were up against them last week and they managed to get back real late in the game. It was huge for us to do the scoring in the last five minutes today.
"I think it's an incredible performance for our team," he continued. "We played well, we were behind, they'd managed to frustrate us and yet we just kept going. That's a testament to the fitness and the drive of the team. I think this could be a huge win for us to springboard us to Sunday."