Big Clasico Win
STANFORD, Calif. - The Cardinal extended its unbeaten streak to nine straight in emphatic fashion on Thursday night, taking down California 5-1 in Cagan Stadium. Stanford improves to 6-0-3 and 1-0-2 on the season while the Golden Bears fall to 3-3-3 and 1-0-2.
The match kicked off at 8 p.m. in front of 1,954 fans, Stanford Men's Soccer's largest crowd since the 2017 season.
"First of all, thank you to everyone who came out, I thought the atmosphere was amazing," said The Knowles Family Director of Men's Soccer Jeremy Gunn. "Thank you to all the students who came out and thank you to all the other fans, it was a really exciting environment and I know that meant the world to the players."
The game began with a strike on goal from Fletcher Bank only 15 seconds after the first whistle, and the Cardinal stayed on the front foot through much of the first half.
"A really exciting performance tonight," said Gunn. "I felt that we started really brightly, created some great chances, and were just shy of getting ahead in the first half."
Stanford's attack was unrelenting during the first 45 minutes, as the team piled on 14 shots. The Cardinal forced the California goalkeeper to make five saves during the first period.
"At halftime, we felt that we were really in control of the game, although California looked dangerous on some of their set pieces and a couple of their counter attacks," explained Gunn. "I'm really happy with how the first half went, we hoped that we were just landing body blows even though they weren't knockout blows."
After the halftime whistle, the game became more evenly balanced. The Golden Bears were able to string together a few attacks, including two that resulted in saves from Matt Frank.
"In the second half, it's sometimes hard to sustain being on top," added Gunn. "To be fair, California came out and it was a much more even game at the beginning of the second half."
Despite the pressure from California, Stanford found the breakthrough in the 63rd minute as Shane de Flores weaved his way through defenders to bag his second goal of the season following the setup from Will Reilly. It would be de Flore's first of two goals on the night and the first of three goal involvements for Reilly as well.
But California was able to find an equalizer only three minutes later.
"Of course we score the first goal and we hoped that it would put us into a composed position," said Gunn. "But they get one delivery, it rattles around the box and they bury it, so it's frustrating, how we can we be in this situation where it's 1-1 after being so dominant for a lot of the game."
Despite the quick score from the Golden Bears, Stanford didn't step off the gas. Five minutes later in the 70th minute, Will Reilly headed the Cardinal back in front to a 2-1 lead.
"I'm very pleased with how we responded to that. We stayed composed, we kept being assertive and aggressive," said Gunn. "We kept looking to create chances, and eventually, we absolutely ran away with the game."
California went down to ten men in the 75 minute after a player was booked for fighting, and the Cardinal took advantage of the extra man.
Cam Cilley made it 3-1 Stanford by converting a penalty earned by Keegan Tingey. Will Reilly then scored his second of the match in the 79th minute following a great pass from Cilley. And de Flores added his second in the 85th minute, heading home a perfect ball from Connor Evans.
"I'm very happy with the overall performance, obviously the result was emphatic, and again, a lot of great performances by the players," added Gunn. "The team has continued to keep growing, game in and game out, and I feel we're just maturing. I'm very excited with the outcome, and now we'll enjoy this moment."
Stanford will look to extend its unbeaten streak to ten against No. 2 Washington on Thursday, October 6 in Seattle.