It's Now or Never for Stanford
Oct. 29, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. -
The Pac-10 Race
The Pacific-10 Conference race can remain wide open if Stanford and Cal have success at conference-leading UCLA this weekend. The Bruins will clinch the title with a sweep, but Stanford hopes to play more than spoiler as it gathers itself for a five-match stretch run. The Cardinal must win out, or come close to it, to re-join the race. Its recent run -- one victory in its past nine matches -- might indicate otherwise, but the team has continued to play every opponent at least on equal terms. Players and coaches have said they believe a change of fortune is inevitable based on the overall strength of their play and consistent effort that belies the team's lack of success.
One source of satisfaction for Stanford is that its lone conference victory has come against UCLA. With a strong balance among the Pac-10's six programs, each team is a threat to another, which was proven with that result.
On the Air
There will be no streaming video or audio from the Stanford-San Diego State match. However, an Internet-only live broadcast of the Stanford-UCLA match can be found on uclabruins.com.
Both matches can be followed on gostanford.com via Gametracker, the live stats program.
Former Walk-On Leads Cardinal
It also was a sign of how far the fifth-year senior has come since joining the team as a junior walk-on. Montgomery failed to make the team as a freshman, but tried again a year later. The first step was doing well enough during a winter soccer P.E. class to be invited to train with the team during the spring season. He did well enough during both stages to earn a roster spot for his junior year.
In two previous seasons, Montgomery had scored only one goal, before tripling that total this season with a series of quality goals. The best may have come against Cornell, when he stepped into a ball left in his path by a Warshaw chest pass, and sent a blast into the upper corner.
After playing only one Pac-10 match in 18 days, Stanford now must play four in 10 days. After the Southern California trip, the Cardinal returns for its final home matches of the season, playing Washington and Oregon State, on Nov. 7 and 9.
Stanford is the only team in the Pac-10 to hold every opponent to two goals or fewer. The Cardinal ranks No. 2 in the conference in team goals-against average, with 1.04.
Stanford has suffered seven one-goal losses this season, its most since 2005. If the total reaches eight, it would mark the most since 1988. Each of the deciding goals was scored late in the second half or overtime and broke a tie.
During a break in Pac-10 play, Stanford traveled to Albuquerque, N.M., for a nonconference contest, but fell to New Mexico, 2-1, on a tiebreaking 83rd-minute goal. Tom Montgomery gave Stanford the lead with a shot from the top of the penalty area in the 30th minute, only for the Lobos to answer back within six minutes. Stanford finished nonconference play with a 2-5-1 mark.
Scouting San Diego State
The Aztecs are winless in five matches since beating Stanford with a late goal on Oct. 10. San Diego State's season seems to mirror Stanford's, matching the Cardinal's total of seven one-goal losses.
Four of the Aztecs' past five matches have gone into overtime, with two ending in draws and two in losses.
San Diego State has not won at home since Sept. 7, going 0-3 since a 6-0 victory over Albany.
The Stanford-San Diego State Series
San Diego State turned away Stanford, 1-0, on an 83rd-minute goal by Reymundo Reza that ricocheted off the right post Oct. 10 at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
San Diego State leads the series, 8-4-5, though the edge is only 3-2-2 since 2005 when the Aztecs joined the Pac-10.
The Bruins have vaulted into sole possession of first in the Pac-10 on the basis of four consecutive victories -- all shutouts -- following their 2-1 loss to Stanford on Oct. 12. UCLA can clinch the conference title by sweeping Cal (Friday) and Stanford (Sunday) this weekend.
UCLA, ranked No. 23 by Soccer America, is led by senior defender Brad Rusin, the current Pac-10 player of the week.
The Stanford-UCLA Series
A 75th-minute volley by freshman reserve Clayton Holz gave Stanford a 2-1 victory over the visiting Bruins on Oct. 12. No one has scored on UCLA since. It also remains Stanford's only conference victory and the Bruins' only Pac-10 loss.
UCLA leads the series 34-4-7, but Stanford is unbeaten in their past six meetings (3-0-3) and hasn't lost to the Bruins since Oct. 2, 2005.
Stanford has been without injured senior co-captains Evan Morgan and T.J. Novak for most of the season. Both continue to rehab injuries in hopes of returning by the end of the season. Morgan, a fifth-year senior who missed the 2007 season with a different injury, was hurt in the first minute of the team's second exhibition this year. Novak was injured in the sixth match, against Drake.
The crowd of 2,173 at New Mexico was the largest the Cardinal has played in front of this season. However, Stanford has exceeded 1,000 in attendance three times at home.
Stanford's 14 goals allowed are the second-fewest in the Pac-10.
Six Cardinal players have started every match: defender Ryan Imamura, defender Tim Jones, goalkeeper John Moore, midfielder-forward Tom Montgomery, defender-midfielder Ryan Thomas, and forward Bobby Warshaw.
Warshaw and Montgomery lead the team in goal-scoring, with three apiece. Warshaw's came against Cornell, USF and Oregon State (penalty kick). Montgomery has scored against San Jose State, Cornell and New Mexico.
Despite scoring only nine goals, Stanford is nearly equal to its opponents in shots on goal (60 for Stanford, to 65 to opponents) and shots per game (12.2 to 12.8).
Jones extended his streak of consecutive starts to 59, dating back to the ninth match of his freshman season.
Freshman forward Cullen Wilson received his first collegiate start against New Mexico and performed well in the loss.
Coach Bret Simon's career victory total stands at 246, which places him at No. 21 among active Division I coaches, and No. 52 all-time. He is No. 1 on the list among all-time Stanford coaches.