Stanford recorded 25 shots, allowed just one and the third-ranked Cardinal posted its third consecutive shutout, beating visiting American 3-0 at Cagan Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
It was a thoroughly balanced and dominating effort from the Cardinal (5-0), which has won its first five matches of the season for the first time in 17 years.
“Some teams hang their hat on being really defense-minded, while other teams hang their hat on being attack-minded and sometimes fall short in the secondary category,” Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said. “What we’ve always tried to do here is balance what we do in a game. We want to play with a purpose. Teams always have to concern themselves with how tough it is to break us down, but then they also have to deal with an [offensive onslaught.”
It was nearly impossible to break down Stanford on Sunday. American’s Will Giannakouros had his shot blocked 24 seconds into the match. The Eagles wouldn’t muster another attempt in the final 89:36 and the Cardinal lowered its team goals against average to 0.20.
Derek Waldeck and Ousseni Bouda combined for Stanford’s first tally in the 22nd minute. Waldeck’s service into the box from 30 yards was on target, Bouda beat his man to the ball and snapped a brilliant, top-shelf header under the crossbar and over the outstretched glove of American keeper John Mino.
Waldeck himself got on the scoresheet in the 55th minute when Will Richmond’s service was headed out by the Eagles’ back line. Jared Gilbey knocked down the attempted clearance at the top of the box and threaded his pass through to Waldeck, who stopped the ball, turned and calmly deposited his third career score at the right post.
“Jared and Derek are the people who are in the engine room,” Gunn said of his senior central midfielders. “We want all of their great soccer and all of their great passing, but at the end of the day it is about creating and scoring chances. We talked with them about taking all their wonderful abilities and translating it onto the scoresheet. They were hungry to score and that’s mentality we want to have.”
Freshman Gabe Segal added some insurance in the 82nd minute when he was left unmarked in the box and headed home Kei Tomozawa’s cross. It was Segal’s second goal of the season and Tomozawa’s first career point.
Tomozawa, Segal and Keegan Tingey, who started the sequence passing ahead to Tomozawa, were three of 10 Stanford subs used in the match.
“We had three games in close succession and so it’s always a bit of a test with the quick turnaround,” Gunn said. “It was awesome to see a lot of faces in there today. We’re in a strong position because the people on the pitch right now are playing so well, which means we have good players [behind them who are currently frustrated. They have to be ready to be the next man up and make the most of every opportunity. With lots of different people on in the second half, we were still attacking, playing crisp and playing well.”
The Cardinal’s best start to a season prior to this year was when it won its first seven matches of 2002.
Stanford opens its Pac-12 Conference schedule at Cal on Friday at 4:30 p.m.