Nov. 1, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
Showing no fear in the face of the nation's fifth-ranked team, Stanford played one of its finest matches of the season Thursday night at No. 5 UCLA. The Cardinal and Bruins threw everything they collectively had against one another until UCLA got the golden goal in the third minute of double overtime to escape with the 2-1 win.
Stanford (7-8-1, 3-4-1 Pac-12, 10 points) outshot UCLA (12-2-2, 7-1-0 Pac-12, 21 points) 13-11 for the match including 8-3 in a second half in which the Cardinal equalized through JJ Koval's second goal of the campaign and very much controlled the run of play.
"I thought we played incredible tonight, on the road against the fifth-ranked team," said Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn. "UCLA is one of the best teams in the country and I could not have been prouder of how we played and how we attacked them. We asked every question of them that we could have. It's heart-wrenching for our team to come out of it with a loss when a win or tie would've been a fair result. You have to credit them with the quality that they have. Even when we played well they defended well."
Stanford wasted no time asking its questions and putting UCLA to the test Thursday. Zach Batteer's header on frame forced a save out of UCLA goalkeeper Earl Edwards just 43 seconds into the match to open a match-opening stretch of putting the pressure on the Bruins. Stanford would put the ball in the back of the net in the ninth minute but would have the goal waved off as the lineman's flag was up signaling offside.
UCLA would recover, however, striking first following a 16th-minute header. Joe Sofia nodded Leo Stolz' kick towards the frame where Cardinal goalkeeper Drew Hutchins alertly made the stop, but Victor Chavez pounced on the rebound and made good on the second chance for his fifth goal of the season.
Stanford thought it had found the equalizer in the 22nd minute but again the lineman's flag negated a Cardinal goal for offside. The Cardinal would earn a pair of corners over the next 20 minutes, the second resulting in a Koval header that Edwards did well to save and preserve UCLA's one-goal lead. In the half's final seconds, the Cardinal earned another corner kick but again the opportunity was thwarted when Ty Thompson's
shot was blocked before it could reach goal seconds before the horn.
"We were going toe-to-toe with them and playing well through the first half, alternating chances, it was a very, very exciting game of soccer," Gunn noted.
Stanford came out with a head of steam as the second half got underway, as save for a UCLA chance that forced a Hutchins save in the 52nd minute the Cardinal thoroughly controlled the action. Koval continued to stalk the net, getting his head on Kovar's corner kick and forcing a save from Edwards. Dersu Abolfathi forced a save just past the hour mark then had a second effort blocked 44 seconds later.
All of this pressure finally bore fruit for the Cardinal in the 73rd minute and it was Koval whose goal-hunting was rewarded. Kovar put the ball in play on a throw-in which Adam Jahn managed to flick towards net. Although Jahn's flick was knocked away the ball fell to Koval's feet and the junior lashed home the equalizer.
With the momentum fully on its side, the Cardinal continued to push forward, a third away win over a ranked team in its sights. Yet everything Stanford threw at UCLA, Edwards would answer to rescue the Bruins from falling behind. Batteer forced two saves from Edwards, sandwiching a strong effort from Jahn in the 82nd minute. Stanford's efforts continued to be stifled as the 90-minute mark arrived with the teams knotted at a goal apiece.
While Kovar managed the first chance of overtime, firing wide in the 98th minute, Hutchins came to the Cardinal rescue, making two of his four saves on the night against chances from Ryan Hollingshead and Sofia.
"As the game evolved we looked strong, we scored the goal and then we created great chances and put them under absolutely immense pressure," Gunn said. "They managed to defend well enough and get opportunities of their own."
It would end up being the first opportunity for UCLA in the second overtime that ended the match. UCLA's Chris Cummings played the ball ahead to Fernando Monge coming at the goal from the left wing. Monge went top-shelf on a charging Hutchins to give the Bruins the victory.
Despite the setback, the Cardinal will aim to regroup for Saturday's match at San Diego State. The Cardinal and Aztecs will kickoff at 7 p.m. as Stanford hopes to earn a split and cap the weekend on a high note.
"We've been playing great throughout the year. A night like tonight it's been fairly typical of the season where we've played very well and been good enough to create great chances," Gunn noted. "In some games where we've not managed to get the result we've actually played well enough to get the result. What's been unbelievable from this squad is the number of great performances we've put back-to-back-to-back so I couldn't ask much more of them.
"Congrats to UCLA, what an exciting game of college soccer it was. It was a very, very well-played game," Gunn added.