Cardinal Comeback Denied
CARY, N.C. - Stanford's season came to an end on Thursday night, as the Cardinal, the tournament's No. 4 overall seed, dropped a 1-0 decision to North Carolina in the third round of the NCAA Championships.
Stanford fell behind in the 14th minute as the Tar Heels scored off a set piece after pressuring the Cardinal defense early.
"It's a disappointing end to a tremendous season," said The Knowles Family Director of Men's Soccer Jeremy Gunn. "We didn't start as well as we wanted to, and allowed our opponent to have a bit too much attacking impetus, resulting in the early deficit."
While shots were hard to come by, for both squads in fact, the Cardinal ramped up its intensity after the early goings, but lacked the finishes in the final third to draw even.
The second half saw Stanford pushing hard for the equalizer as the Cardinal held possession for longer amounts of time and put pressure on the UNC defense. Unfortunately for the Cardinal, the Tar Heels would not relent.
Stanford featured a chance in the 56th minute as Will Richmond had a moment of space inside the penalty box, but North Carolina successfully clogged the area, denying the danger. As the game wore on, so did Stanford's sense of urgency, as the Cardinal pressed hard, including two late corner kicks and two free kicks in the attacking third, but ultimately was shut out from scoring.
"I was much more pleased with our performance in the second half. We certainly asked more questions," commented Gunn. "We played with great urgency, but weren't quite capable of breaking down a solid defense."
Winning the Pac-12 championship for the sixth time in seven seasons, Stanford finishes the year 10-3-1 overall after earning its eighth straight trip to the postseason.
"I want to make sure to thank everyone's hard work in making this season happen, from our players, staff, support staff and everyone back on campus who featured a tireless effort to put us in a successful position to play," added Gunn. "It did not go unnoticed, nor did everyone's work to make this tournament happen in North Carolina."