Men's Soccer: 2009 In Review
Dec. 21, 2009
2009 was indeed a successful season for Stanford men's soccer as they made huge strides to once again become one of the elite teams in the nation. The Cardinal finished with 12-6-2 record and a No. 14 final national ranking by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
Following a four win season in 2008, head coach Bret Simon was confident that the Cardinal was making strides, although the progress of the program had yet to show up in the win column.
'The past few years our teams have gotten stronger and stronger, even though the results haven't always showed that,' said Simon, who was rewarded as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2009. 'This year has been the culmination of those efforts. Now we are in a very good position to be a nationally competitive program for years to come.'
The optimism comes after Stanford completed a 12-6-2 season with a trip to the Sweet 16. The Cardinal returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002, beating Saint Mary's and UC Irvine along the way. Stanford eventually succumbed to top-ranked Akron, who went on to finish as the national runner-up.
The season was marked by many successes for the Cardinal. Stanford played the traditional stout defense of a Bret Simon team, but also showed a much improved attack. The 2009 Cardinal doubled their scoring output from 2008, scoring 28 goals, up from 14 the previous season.
Bobby Warshaw led the Cardinal in goals with six, as Stanford showed incredible balance with 11 different goals scorers. Warshaw scored from his new role as a central defender, a role that suited him, as he was honored with some of the nation's highest accolades.
The Mechanicsburg, Pa. native was honored as a first team All-America by the NSCAA, becoming the first All-American for Stanford since Todd Dunivant in 2002. In addition, Warshaw was a Herman Trophy semifinalist, an All-American by TopDrawerSoccer.com and a first team All-Pac-10 honoree.
Warshaw was joined by Michael Strickland on the All-Pac-10 first team as both earned the honor for a second consecutive season. Strickland started all 20 games from his holding midfield spot, leading the Cardinal as captain, the qualities of a coach on the field.
Also starring for Stanford was John Moore, who played every minute of the season in goal. The four-year starter recorded nine shutouts and finished the season allowing just 18 goals and a goals against average of 0.87. He is among 65 collegiate players selected to attend the 2010 MLS Combine in January. Moore leaves the Cardinal ranking near the top of almost every goalkeeping statistic in Stanford history with the expectation of being selected in the MLS draft.
Other top veterans were: second team All-Pac-10 honoree Evan Morgan, honorable mention All-Pac-10 recipients T.J. Novak and Evan Morgan, as well as a host of players with breakthrough seasons in 2009, including Garrett Gunther, Cameron Lamming, Daniel Leon and Dominique Yahyavi.
While Stanford had a solid veteran presence that had seen the turnaround of the program, 2009 also saw a group of freshmen that entered as the No. 4 ranked class in the nation by College Soccer News.
The class did not disappoint as Adam Jahn started all 20 games at forward and was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com's national All-Rookie Team as well as being named second team All-Pac-10. Jahn scored four goals and provided a physical presence for the Cardinal attack. Defender Hunter Gorskie also started every game and was rock solid at right back for the Stanford defense. Dersu Abolfathi and Eric Anderson also played significant roles for a class that looks to have a tremendously bright future.
Among the top moments of the 2009 season were a home field domination of then No. 2 UCLA, a pair of overtime golden goal victories and of course the run to Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
The turning point of the season came on October 25. Playing the Bruins at a crucial moment of the season as the Cardinal were coming off a crushing home overtime loss to San Diego State. UCLA was rolling toward the Pac-10 title, but were tripped up by a Stanford team that played inspired soccer to make sure their tournament hopes would stay on track for good. Stanford won 2-0 with Warshaw and Morgan scoring second half goals and John Moore making nine saves in the shutout.
Stanford had a pair of golden goal victories in 2009 with the first coming at home versus San Francisco on September 20. Cameron Lamming eluded a defender in the midfield and his blast from distance sent the defending WCC Champion Dons home empty. Later in the year, Ryan Thomas converted a perfect left footed free kick in the top corner of the goal as Stanford snatched a Pac-10 road victory from San Diego State.
Finally, after being selected to the NCAA tournament the Cardinal hosted Saint Mary's in the first round. Stanford played possibly its most complete game of the season to advance past the Gaels, 3-0. After the victory, the Cardinal headed out on the road to take on 16th-seeded UC Irvine in the second round. The deciding moment of the hard fought game was a Daniel Leon shot from distance that found the top right corner of the net and sent the Cardinal to the Sweet 16 with a 1-0 victory.
Overall, it was a great season for Stanford considering the achievements and improvements from 2008. However, the most exciting aspect is the success should be sustainable, as the Cardinal will come to expect similar results for many years to come.