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Duo Delivers W

Sep 6, 2014

STANFORD, Calif. – Redshirt junior Eric Verso and sophomore Jordan Morris played the 1-2 game to perfection, each scoring off assists from the other, to lead Stanford to a 2-0 victory over San Jose State in the Cardinal’s home opener at Cagan Stadium on Saturday night.

Verso’s tally in the 25th minute was part of a dominant first half for Stanford, which peppered eight shots in the direction of SJSU (1-3-0) keeper Emmanuel Espinosa and consistently possessed the ball in the attacking third. Morris, Zach Batteer and Austin Meyer had all played attempted just wide of the goal before Verso buried his eighth career goal in the back of the net.

The ever speedy Morris was led into the box off a deft touch from midfield by Bobby Edwards and drove hard at the frame before dropping the ball to a trailing Verso. The Cardinal midfielder fired his strike across to the goal and beat Espinosa to the near post.

Verso’s goal was his second in as many games, the first time he’s scored in back-to-back contests since the final two games of the 2012 season at San Diego State (Nov. 3) and at Cal (Nov. 9). San Jose State’s first shot came courtesy of a Frankie Beauchamp header in the 30th minute. Victor Parra had a wish on a try from about 25 yards out just before the half. Both of the Spartans’ tries in the opening 45 were wide.

“It was a great start and I thought we were really, really good in the first half,” Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn said. “We took the game to San Jose State, created some chances, looked solid at the back and were definitely worthy of the 1-0 lead.”

Morris’ seventh career goal, and first of the season, came in the 87th minute and was a backbreaker for San Jose State, which had responded coming out of intermission in a frantic attempt to bury the equalizer. Slater Meehan won the ball and handed it off to Verso in the box. Stanford’s other goal scorer used a flick with the outside of his left boot to find Morris in prime position. The sophomore easily deposited his laser across the goal and in the side of the net in the near side to seal the victory.

Morris started Saturday’s match after missing Stanford’s win over Omaha because of duties with the U.S. Men’s National Team for its friendly against the Czechs in Prague on Sept. 3.

His late goal came at the tail end of a 15-minute stretch in which San Jose State seemed close to pulling even, until the Spartans met Stanford keeper Andrew Epstein. In the 72nd minute the sophomore, making his third career start, stonewalled Victor Parra on a point blank shot to preserve his clean sheet.

Epstein did the same 11 minutes later, turning away a breakaway from SJSU’s Greg Harte with a leaping save to his left, arms outstretched and body parallel to the ground.

“Credit to them in the second half,” Gunn added. “They went after it and had a couple of set pieces that were good testers for us and then had a couple of breakaways that were great chances. It was nice to see Andrew make some critical saves there that kept us in the game. It’s a battle and it’s a fight at 1-0. We managed to get together, keep it tight and then we got the insurance goal late that put away the contest. It was a hard fought victory and I’m proud of the way we played tonight.”

Stanford will return to the pitch for its season debut on the Pac-12 Networks on Tuesday at 7 p.m. when the Cardinal hosts UC Santa Barbara at Cagan Stadium.