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Men’s soccer looks to keep perfect conference record alive against San Diego State
Sophomore midfielder Amir Bashti chases a ball to start an important action in the midfield. Bashti will be an essential piece as the Cardinal takes on San Diego State on Thursday. (JIM SHORIN/isiphotos.com)

Men’s soccer looks to keep perfect conference record alive against San Diego State

No. 12 Stanford men’s soccer (8-2-3, 5-0 Pac-12) is looking to extend its five-game unbeaten streak at San Diego State (7-3-3, 2-2-1) this Thursday in its second match against the Aztecs this season.

This marks the first time in program history that the Cardinal are flawless five games into Pac-12 competition. The last time the Cardinal sported a five-game conference win streak was in 2000, the first year of Pac-12 men’s soccer.

After a lackluster 0-1-3 start to the year, Stanford has turned on the heat, going 8-1 in its last nine games.

In their last game against No. 17 UCLA, the Cardinal won 3-0 and outshot them 20-11, including a far-post goal by junior midfielder Sam Werner.

Just 10 minutes after Werner’s goal, sophomore defender Tanner Beason netted a key volley from the top of the box, followed four minutes later by an insurance goal off of junior defender Adam Mosharrafa’s free kick.

Stanford will meet the Aztecs in San Diego, just a week after the last Aztecs-Cardinal matchup at Cagan Stadium.

The formidable Aztec defense was nationally ranked in goals against and shutout percentage when they first clashed with Stanford’s offense, but the Cardinal managed to end the game with a 3-1 win, thanks to goals from sophomore midfielder Amir Bashti, junior defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce and freshman midfielder Derek Waldeck.

It’s important for the Cardinal to step on the gas early against SDSU, especially after getting outshot 4-3 in the first half during their last matchup with the Aztecs.

Along with Beason and Werner, key players, such as junior forward Corey Baird and junior forward Foster Langsdorf, are expected to help bring the offensive intensity down south.

Even though Stanford is on a hot streak, San Diego State threatens to be an opponent that can cool it down.

The No. 25-ranked Aztecs are coming off an overtime win against Cal at home — their first win against the Golden Bears since 2009. The Aztecs held a 14-11 advantage in shots against Cal and are looking to excel again on a familiar field as they close out the home portion of their regular season.

SDSU’s win over the Cardinal’s Bay Area neighbor might be just the catalyst for a resurgence from two prior losses to UCLA and Stanford.

The Stanford backs, Beason, Mosharrafa, Hilliard-Arce and senior Brian Nana-Sinkam, will have their hands full with SDSU’s leading scorers. Junior Jeroen Meefout leads the Aztecs with four goals, while senior Michael Sauers and redshirt senior Travis Nicklaw have each notched three goals.

While the SDSU upperclassmen may be leading the pack, the freshmen are not to be underestimated. Three freshmen, Pablo Pelaez, AJ Vergara and Daniel Sagno, were each recently named to the mid-season TopDrawerSoccer Freshman Top 100 team. Pelaez will not only be playing in front of a home crowd Thursday, he will also be playing in his hometown.

However, Stanford hasn’t dropped a game to SDSU since 2011 — and they don’t intend to change that now. A win against San Diego State this Thursday would keep breaking the record books and, even more impressively, show how well the Cardinal have handled adversity they faced early in the season.

Stanford will take on the Aztecs this Thursday at 7 p.m. The match will be live-streamed on GoAztecs.com.

Contact Julia Massaro at jmassaro ‘at’ stanford.edu.