November 28, 2001
Hometown: Fair Oaks, CA
High School: Rio Americano High School
Coming off the 0-0 tie with
UCLA, it was easy to see the desire to play another game, yet we were forced
to wait nine days until the Cal game. Although we all prefer matches to practices,
it was a perfect time to allow for the healing of several injuries that were
accumulated from the past couple weekends. Although our current priority is
to win the Pac-10 championship, it is also essential to plan for the playoffs,
and to risk a season ending injury would not be prudent. This break from games
also allowed for us to catch up with our academics. It was not too long ago,
this senior class remembers, taking finals in a hotel the day before the national
championship. That is a position that everyone would love to be in, however
it is important to plan ahead for both academics and athletics while we have
Even though our match against
Cal earlier in the season ended in what seemed to be a comfortable victory of
4-0, it was an evenly fought game for much of the first half, and we knew that
they would love acquire another win over a top ten team heading into the post
season. Playing at Cal is a different experience than at Stanford, mainly due
to their field, which allows for a much higher-paced game. To prepare for his
chance in speed of play, Bret scheduled a practice on the astro-turf field at
Stanford to accustom ourselves to quick surface and bumpy field.
The game at Cal was as difficult
as expected, and Cal tempted us to play through them with low pressure, which
drastically reduced the space in behind their defense. Although we had the majority
of the possession in the first half, it took a half hour to get their defense
and Darren Fernandez finished a great opportunity off a precise pass from Derek
Shanahan. Darren, who was starting for the injured Matt Janusz, played brilliantly
throughout the game. Johanes Maliza scored a second goal midway through the
second half which forced Cal to pressure higher, creating more space for us
to play. It was a solid performance and an even bigger win for us. The only
negative aspect to this Cal game was the injury sustained by Andrew Terris,
yet Robbie Fulton stepped into goal and played confidently as if he had been
there the entire year.
With one more weekend in
the regular season, we still held our Pac-10 destiny in our own hands, which
is quite comforting. Our two last games would not only be played against two
great opponents, but they would be on the road in the cold and wet weather of
Oregon and Washington. Our first home match against Washington went extremely
well, yet we all understood that we were going to have to face a different and
more motivated Washington team. Even though they were not able to play Richie,
one of their best defenders, we were forced to play without Derek; therefore,
both teams were shorthanded. We were not going to let this affect our preparation,
because every upperclassmen understands the difficulty in winning at Washington.
Our win against the Huskies
on Friday night was a special feeling for the team. Although we had several
opportunities to end the game in regulation, Washington defended well and created
several opportunities of their own. I just want to point out several of the
key points to this victory against Washington:
1- Robbie Fulton started
his first match in his Stanford career. Terris was injured from a challenge
received the previous weekend. I cannot even articulate how impressed I was
with the poise and leadership of Robbie that night. He made numerous brilliant
saves, and he dominated his box against the dangerous crosses from Washington.
Our whole team knew that Robbie is a talented goalie, but he stepped into the
starting role as if he had been there all year. I am glad that his parents were
there to see that game.
2- Darren Fernandez scored
yet another game winner, and what an important goal it was. Darren played with
his typical flash and composure that we have witnessed throughout the entire
year. He is going to be a very special player.
3- With this win, we guaranteed
ourselves at least a piece of the Pac-10 championship. This is a task that no
other Stanford team has ever accomplished, and we are proud of this fact.
To guarantee our team the
outright championship, we would be forced to either tie or beat Oregon State.
While we may have beaten them 4-0 at home, playing on their field, and on their
senior day is a daunting task. After a long drive from Seattle to Corvalis,
we settled into our hotel to prepare for our match the following afternoon.
Heavy rains throughout the night made the field a mud bowl, which is less suitable
to our style of play. The game started in our favor after I crossed a ball to
Roger who slotted it into the side netting for the first goal of the afternoon.
But moments later, Roger was fouled several times, and responded to these numerous
challenges with one of his own. From the perspective of the ref, it seemed like
a form of retaliation, and he was awarded a red card. Not only were we forced
to play a man down for the remainder of the game, but also we would miss our
leading scorer for the first weekend of the tournament. The Oregon State game
ended in an ugly 3-1 score and although we won the Pac-10 championship outright,
we were not pleased with our performance and the red card.
The NCAA committee awarded
our team the number 3 ranking in the tournament, which accurately shows the
effort we put forth throughout the first 18 games of the season. But our bracket
was possibly the hardest in the nation. While we have beaten every team in the
bracket, each game was difficult. Of the five other teams in our immediate bracket,
we have played them a total of seven times. Yes that is correct, seven games
against the five teams. And it is even more difficult to beat a team the number
of times you play them.
With this in mind we watched
the Cal v. Santa Clara game from the stands to see which local rival we would
play. Both teams had numerous scoring opportunities but finally it was Santa
Clara that won the game in the third overtime. They played very hard on Friday
night, and our day off would certainly benefit us for the game on Sunday. Without
Roger playing, Janusz and Darren started up front. Although neither of these
two had any playoff experience, the team was quite confident in their abilities
to score. This was proven by the fact that Janusz scored his first hat-trick
of the season. The 3-1 victory was a great win for our team. This game, in my
opinion, just proves that we do not have only one scoring threat. If teams focus
of Roger, then others will step up to the challenge. With goals from Darren,
Janusz, and Roger thoughout the past couple of weekends, it is proven that our
team has several methods of attack. As long and we continue to defend well,
I feel that we will continue to be successful, starting this weekend against
Portland. They are a very tough opponent, but if we play our style, defend well,
compete for every ball, the result will sort itself out.