Tanner Beason and Foster Langsdorf each scored in the second half to lift the ninth-seeded Stanford men's soccer team past visiting Coastal Carolina, 2-0, on Sunday night in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
The road to Philadelphia goes through Winston-Salem, N.C. and top-ranked and top-seeded Wake Forest (19-1-2), which hosts the quarterfinal match Saturday at 2 p.m.
Wake Forest, the only No. 1 seed left, is the last team to score a goal against the Cardinal in the NCAA tournament.
On Sunday, a scoreless first half ended on an Adam Mosharrafa free kick at the horn that nearly slipped into the top corner, but was batted away by Braulino Linares-Ortiz.
The chance gave the Cardinal some life heading into the locker room and Stanford took advantage of the momentum coming out in the second.
"We came out with the intent of passing and moving and in the first half I felt we did that, but then we were just a little too cute at times," Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said. "Coastal is very good at pressing and countering so we gave away unnecessary free kicks against a team you don't want to give away set pieces to. We just finished some possessions short that allowed good counters. My message at halftime was to still be brave and play, but we needed to get them on the back foot. They were onto us. If you play short, short, short, you get pressed, pressed, pressed."
Stanford heeded the message and took advantage in the 50th minute when Bryce Marion dribbled around his defender on the right side and went down in the box. A foul was whistled and Beason calmly stepped up and buried the penalty to give the Cardinal a 1-0 lead.
Langsdorf nearly doubled the lead in the 59th minute when he took a pass but was unable to curl his shot on frame. Corey Baird also had a chance in the 70th that was saved by Linares-Ortiz and Langsdorf nailed the post on a cross from Sam Werner in the 75th.
"The whole game plan was we'd love to be knocking them out in the first 10 minutes," Gunn said. "But if we kept the ball moving, kept playing with that intensity, some of their players are big, strong guys that we felt we'd wear down. We wanted a high tempo, we wanted to get the ball moving and I think we achieved that. I believe it paid dividends in the latter stages to give us a bit more time and space."
Space opened up in the 90th when Corey Baird took a clearance near midfield, drove forward and set up Lansgdorf for a 1-on-1 goal, his 13th of the season which upped his Pac-12 career record to 36.
The assist was Baird's 29th, moving him into sole possession of fourth on the Cardinal's career list.
Stanford, which improved its record to 58-0-6 when it scores at least two goals under Gunn, put together another trademark defensive performance.
The Cardinal collected its ninth consecutive postseason shutout spanning 932:17 of match time. It last surrendered an NCAA tournament goal in the quarterfinals at Wake Forest on Dec. 5, 2015, an Ian Harkes penalty in the 70th minute.
"You always want to do your job as a goalie," Stanford keeper Nico Corti said. "You're going to be called upon once, maybe two times in a game when you're playing with a team like this. The reality is the reason I don't have to do much work is because we've got a phenomenal back line in front of me doing incredible things. They kept everyone at bay in the first 35 minutes. There were times we were on our back foot, but we stuck together, we communicated a lot and worked hard, started turning them around and got the momentum back in our favor."
Corti's clean sheet was his 11th of the season and lowered his goals against average to 0.45.
He made a diving stop on a shot from Martin Melchor in the 26th minute and lunged to his left to save a low attempt from Louis Dargent in the 57th.
Coastal's best chance to equalize came in the 65th minute off a corner, but Henrik Mueller's header to the back post was just wide.
"The players work hard defensively and we organized and executed really well," Gunn said. "It is tough for teams to score, but I don't want to focus on the goals against because then everyone is going to panic when we let one in. We know that we can score. No matter what happens in the game we're going to try and focus on getting that next goal."
Stanford improved to 24-12-6 all-time in the NCAA tournament and is 10-2-4 under Gunn. Stanford is unbeaten in 12 consecutive tournament matches, its last loss coming on Nov. 23, 2014 to UC Irvine, 1-0.
"This is tough," Gunn said. "Everybody wants to think we should just win games because we won games last year and that truly is absurd. These are great teams we're paying against and it's soccer. Who cares about rankings or ratings? In men's soccer there is incredible parity because there's a lot of different ways you can play that are very effective."