Widgets Magazine

M. Soccer: Shorthanded Card falls to Cal in final game

On a sunny afternoon in Berkeley, Stanford battled back from an early 1-0 deficit to tie the score before halftime, but after losing a player to a red card, the shorthanded squad couldn’t hold off a strong California side in the final game of the regular season. The No. 8 Golden Bears (12-2-3, 8-1-1 Pac-10) scored a pair of goals after Stanford goalkeeper Jason Dodson was ejected halfway through the second half and won the match, 3-2.

Stanford (8-10-0, 4-6-0) scored in the final minute of regulation, but couldn’t overcome two outstanding goals from little-used Cal substitute Alec Sundly.

Early on, Stanford was clearly the stronger team, and had several excellent chances in the first half. Redshirt junior midfielder Garrett Gunther had a chance in the 22nd minute, but his left-footed volley went wide.

Minutes later, senior forward Dominique Yahyavi was stopped by diving Bear goalkeeper David Bingham. The junior saved the Bears all match long, making several difficult stops and totaling 10 saves in all.

Redshirt freshman Galen Perkins, above, stepped in for starter Jason Dodson yesterday after a red card in the second half. The Card couldn't force a late comeback, however, with just 10 men on the field. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

Head coach Bret Simon was very impressed with Bingham’s play.

“David played great, he really kept them in the game,” he said.

But Cal cashed in on its first good opportunity of the half when a nifty piece of footwork by Cal’s Chris Ortega on the sideline resulted in a corner kick. A twisting ball off the set piece was met by the unmarked freshman Sundly, who sent a header past the helpless Dodson for his first career goal.

The large crowd of 2,415 thought its team might have secured the game there, as the Golden Bear defense had only allowed just five goals in nine Pac-10 games, but the Cardinal offense just had to get into gear.

With seven minutes to go in the half, Cal couldn’t clear a Stanford corner kick and the ball bounced to redshirt junior Taylor Amman. The forward found his sophomore counterpart Adam Jahn, who promptly blasted the ball into the far corner from 20 yards for his third goal of the year and the equalizer.

It looked like the game might be heading for overtime, which would have made it six overtime games in row for Cal, as both teams settled in during the second half. But in the 68th minute, a seemingly innocuous counterattack turned deadly when Tommy Ryan couldn’t catch up to a beautifully played through ball for Cal. Dodson was forced off his line and slammed into the onrushing forward Davis Paul without attempting to play the ball. He was immediately given a red card and ejected from the game.

The visibly upset keeper left the field and had to be replaced by redshirt freshman Galen Perkins. But more inopportune for the Cardinal was having to play with 10 men after the ejection. Senior Daniel Leon came off the field for Stanford and Perkins saved the ensuing free kick, but the damage was done.

The Cardinal was on its heels, and five minutes later Cal won a corner kick. Servando Carrasco made the most of it, sending his headed shot off the post and in past Perkins.

With just a few minutes left in the second half, Stanford was pressing and looking for another equalizer, but having to play with 10 men was taking its toll on the players. Cal took advantage when a set of passes left Sundly open again from 25 yards. He didn’t miss, and Perkins had no chance to stop the screaming shot into the top corner.

Just like that, it was 3-1, but the Cardinal wasn’t finished yet.

Desperately sending men forward with a minute to play, Stanford won a throw-in on the near sideline, and senior defender Ryan Thomas sent a deep ball into the box. After bouncing around off several players, fellow senior defender Bobby Warshaw’s bicycle attempt failed, but the ricochet found Cameron Lamming. The senior defender managed to find a small bit of free space and capitalized with his first goal of the year.

But it was too little too late, as Cal held on for the narrow victory and wrapped up its third Pac-10 championship in program history.

“Who would have thought it? Sundly scored some great goals, and congratulations to him and Cal,” Simon said. “I thought we played well enough to win today, but we were a man short, and we were pressing to get another goal. It was just very difficult.”

With an 8-10-0 overall record, Stanford is all but eliminated from contention for an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.

The loss was a difficult end to a tough season for the Cardinal, which came into camp as the No. 13 team in the country but lost four straight and couldn’t quite recover. The team will return seven starters and 24 players next year, as it tries to regain its footing in the brutal Pac-10.

About Miles Bennett-Smith

Miles Bennett-Smith is Chief Operating Officer at The Daily. An avid sports fan from Penryn, Calif., Miles graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor's degree in American Studies. He has previously served as the Editor in Chief and President at The Daily. He has also worked as a reporter for The Sacramento Bee. Email him at eic@stanforddaily.com