Nov. 11, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. -
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On a Streak
Stanford can end a frustrating season with a three-match unbeaten streak. The Cardinal hopes to maintain momentum when it takes on Cal in the season finale on Sunday at Edwards Stadium in Berkeley. Stanford is coming off a successful weekend in which it beat Washington, 4-2, and tied Oregon State, 0-0, but has yet to string together points in three consecutive matches this season.
The Cardinal is tied with Oregon State for fifth in the six-team Pacific-10 Conference, but could move into a three-way tie for fourth with a win and if Oregon State beats Washington.
Cal, ranked No. 12 in the NSCAA coaches' poll and No. 17 by Soccer America, has clinched a share of second behind champion UCLA and would gain sole possession with a win or draw.
Final Game for Seniors
With seniors T.J. Novak and Evan Morgan to receive additional seasons next year as medical redshirts, there are eight Stanford players that will be marking their final match with the team: D/M Michael Alexander, D Enrique Allen, D Ryan Imamura, D Tim Jones, M/F Alex Kozachenko, M/F Tom Montgomery, GK Josh Nesbit, and GK Brent Stewart.
Of the eight, three have been full-time starters and are all-conference candidates. The following is a look at each and the impact they've had on Stanford soccer:
The sixth-year senior has been the anchor in the middle of one of the Pac-10's most consistently strong defenses. Imamura is a physical player who is strong in the air, deft with his feet and a strong marker. Imamura can take the ball away and has the on-the-ball skills to dribble in tight quarters and get the ball out of trouble. In recent weeks, he's been tested in other ways, such as directing a defense that has been struck by a series of injuries.
Imamura is out of South Eugene High (Eugene, Ore.) and played a season at Cornell before transferring to Stanford in 2004. Coach Bret Simon calls him the best central defender in the Pac-10. He has been a big reason why Stanford is the only team in the conference to not allow more than two goals in any match.
There may not be a more exciting defender in the nation than Jones. A quick and agile player on the right side, Jones can pick a forward clean and immediately push the ball upfield on a counter-attack. It's not unusual to see Jones make a half- or full-field run and slice through the defense for a scoring chance. In addition to his defensive skills as an outstanding one-on-one defender, Jones may be the team's best dribbler and fastest player.
Jones, from Lawrenceville, Ga., and Collins Hill High, has played all but one match since he arrived in 2005 and made 62 consecutive starts.
The midfielder from Centennial High in Bakersfield, Calif., has been an inspirational figure for Stanford. He failed to make the team as a freshman walk-on, but persevered and emerged from a soccer class to make the team as a junior. Now a fifth-year senior in his third season with the team, Montgomery has become a vital player who sets the tone with his work-rate and ball-winning abilities.
Montgomery is one of four players to start every match this season and also is the team's co-leader in goals. He has three, tying him with sophomore Bobby Warshaw for the team lead.
To read a profile on Montgomery from the Stanford Athletics Web site, follow this Web address:
Cal has clinched at least a share of second place in the Pac-10, but can achieve sole possession with a draw against Stanford, or a San Diego State tie or loss to UCLA.
Win or lose, the Bears, winners of the past two conference titles, seem assured of an NCAA at-large berth. It would be their eighth consecutive postseason appearance, all under coach Kevin Grimes.
Cal is coming off a home sweep of the Northwest schools, beating Oregon State, 1-0, on Friday, and Washington, 2-1, on Sunday. The Bears fell behind Washington in the first half, but rallied for the winner in the 88th minute on a goal by Pat Marion. The Bears have lost only once in their past six matches.
Sophomore forward Andrew Wiedeman leads the team with eight goals and is tied for second in the conference in points, with 20. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, a native of Switzerland, has seven shutouts and a 0.72 goals-against average.
The Stanford-Cal Series
In their earlier meeting this season, on Oct. 18, Servando Carrasco poked in the winning goal in the 92nd minute after a fumbled ball gave the Bears a free shot with an open net. The overtime contest was the last in a series of late one-goal losses for Stanford. Over an eight-match stretch, Stanford lost six on late second-half or overtime goals with the score tied.
As in nearly every sport, Cal is Stanford's oldest rival, having played each other since Stanford's first varsity season in 1911. In fact, during its first four seasons, Stanford played all its matches against Cal, going 8-0-3.
Since 1971 (since Stanford's game-by-game records have been kept), Stanford holds a 21-17-8 series lead.
For the past 12 years, either Stanford or Cal has advanced to the NCAA tournament. Though they have a combined 24 NCAA appearances, they have never advanced in the same season.
Stanford broke a four-game losing streak and ended a scoring slump with a 4-2 victory over visiting Washington on Friday. Four Stanford players -- Michael Strickland, Taylor Amman, Enrique Allen, and Garrett Gunther -- scored their first goals of the year. For Amman, Allen and Gunther, they also were their first collegiate scores.
The four goals doubled Stanford's season single-game high of two, which had been achieved against Cornell and UCLA.
Though the Cardinal finished the weekend unbeaten -- the first time that had happened in Pac-10 play this season -- the 0-0 draw against Oregon State on Sunday was something of a disappointment. In overtime, Stanford had a shot hit the post and an apparent goal disallowed.
Senior goalkeeper Josh Nesbit, in his first start since 2005 and his first action of the season, earned his first career shutout, against Oregon State.
Nesbit's appearance ended John Moore's streak of 1,577 consecutive minutes in goal.
Stanford has not allowed more than two goals in any match, and is the only team in the conference with that distinction.
Four Stanford players have started every match this season: senior defender Ryan Imamura, senior midfielder/forward Tom Montgomery, sophomore defender/midfielder Ryan Thomas, and sophomore defender/forward Bobby Warshaw.
Warshaw leads the team in scoring with three goals and two assists for eight points. It would be the fewest points for team scoring leader since records have been kept since 1977.
Redshirt freshman Taylor Amman ignited the Stanford offense off the bench against Washington in only his second collegiate match. Amman had played only once this season, as a reserve two months earlier, against Cornell.