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Men’s soccer set to continue dominance in home opener against Penn State
Sophomore Corey Baird (above) was tied for second in the nation with 13 assists in the 2015. He and the rest of the Cardinal team look to continue their dominance on the field as they kick off the 2016 season at home against Penn State. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Men’s soccer set to continue dominance in home opener against Penn State

The Stanford Men’s soccer team is off to a promising start for the 2016 season. The reigning National Champions, who beat Clemson 4-0 in the College Cup Final in Kansas City last December, have begun their preseason with the same drive and determination that got them back-to-back Pac-12 titles, and a 31-5-6 record over the last two seasons. Their 18 wins for the 2015 season were the second-most successful in school history, and they set a Stanford record for league wins.

Recent polling from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America ranks Stanford No. 1 in the 2016 Preseason Top 25. The Stanford Men’s soccer team received 20 first place votes and 579 points. The 2016 Pac-12 Preseason Coaches poll places the team second behind UCLA with 21 points and 2 first place votes.

Even though the team is replacing five starters, including MAC Hermann Trophy winner Jordan Morris, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year for Pac-12 Brandon Vincent, there remains a strong, talented nucleus of players, including a defensive unit which ranked sixth in the country on goals-against average in 2015.

That strength continues with the recent announcement that junior midfielder Corey Baird, senior goalkeeper Andrew Epstein and junior defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce were named to the 2016 Preseason Men’s Soccer All-Pac 12 Team by a vote of the league’s coaches.

In 2015, Baird started all 23 matches and was named to the College Cup All-Tournament Team, in addition to the All-Pac-12 second team. Baird tied for second in the country with 13 assists – the fifth-highest mark for a single season in Stanford history.

Epstein was a CoSIDA Third Team Academic All-American and NSCAA Scholar All-West Region pick in 2015. He was also selected to the College Cup All-Tournament Team. He stands at 11th in Stanford history in saves (114) and has been selected to the All-Pac-12 second team twice.

In 2015, Hilliard-Arce started at center back in all 23 of Stanford’s games. He was voted to the Top Drawer Soccer Best XI second team and the All-Pac-12 second team. In addition, on August 23, Hilliard-Arce was named to the Top Drawers Soccer 2016 Men’s Division I Preseason Best XI First Team.

This season the Cardinal will host 10 regular-season games at Cagan Stadium, where the team was undefeated in 2015. In fact, since 2014, Stanford’s goals-against average at home is a negligible 0.54.

In their opening exhibition match against Sacramento State on August 13, the Cardinal continued where they left off last season at home. Stanford dominated with a 5-0 victory. Junior Foster Langsdorf tallied a pair of goals, as did Baird, senior midfielder Trevor Hyman and freshman midfielder Jared Gilbey.

The Cardinal racked up a second exhibition win at their first preseason away game against Cal Poly on August 17. After both teams scored less than three minutes apart midway through the second half, Langsdorf scored at 89:51, joining redshirt freshman defender Tanner Beason’s initial goal and breaking the tie to give Stanford a 2-1 win.

The Cardinal will open their season against Penn State at home on Friday, Aug. 26, at 5:00 p.m.

 

Contact Matthew Bernstein at mbernste ‘at’ stanford.edu.