The Stanford men's soccer team is so familiar with penalty kicks, there's a sense of calm and confidence when it gets to that point.
The Cardinal played scoreless draws in last year's semifinal and championship match. It happened again Sunday when Pacific and the Cardinal went to penalty kicks after 110 minutes of scoreless soccer.
Stanford was cool, calm and collected in winning its third shootout in its last three postseason games. Logan Panchot, Adam Mosharrafa and Corey Baird converted the first three for the Cardinal while Pacific misfired on its first two attempts.
UOP's Wouter Verstraaten led off for the Tigers by pounding his off the crossbar and Nico Corti made a diving save of Camden Riley's second shot for Pacific to put Stanford in a comfortable position.
After Baird's make, Tristan Blackmon converted his penalty to keep the Tigers' slim hopes alive before Tanner Beason delivered the dagger.
"I don't want to praise it too much because you never know when you're going to take them," Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said of deciding it with penalties. "It's part of a knockout tournament and we prepare for everything. When you prepare in a deliberate way it makes you better, it builds your confidence and it gives you a better chance. It's as simple as that."
Dating to last year's College Cup, Stanford has played three straight scoreless draws and prevailed in penalties each time. The Cardinal has come out on top in six consecutive postseason shootouts dating to 2002. With his 10th clean sheet of the season, Nico Corti lowered his goals against average to 0.46 and extended Stanford's postseason shutout streak to 842:17.
"Nico was brilliant just as he's been all year," Gunn said. "Most if not all of his big moments have been in regulation this season and tonight he was huge in the shootout and really swung momentum our way."
The consistent, quality chances from one of the nation's top offenses weren't as easy to come by against the Tigers. Stanford spun a few on frame, but Pacific's Curtis Goldsmith made a career-high eight saves to turn back the Cardinal attack.
In the 109th minute Stanford nearly broke through for the winner with back-to-back-to-back shots blocked off the line. Skundrich led the barrage, Amir Bashti collected the rebound and had his shot saved by the defender Verstraaten and Foster Langsdorf had the final in the series that was again blocked by a wall of Tigers in front of goal.
"It wasn't our best performance on the ball, but we were rock solid as a team and as a unit," Gunn said. "In this spot you can't expect to play perfect soccer all the time. Yet again we showed incredible resiliency and when the moments came we were there trying to win the game.
"We'll focus on what we need to do a little bit better," Gunn said. "For our team, when you're waiting on this game there's a physical advantage, but maybe not always a mental advantage. We've managed to get ourselves through and now we move on. We'll work this week and be ready to fly around the field on Sunday."