Stanford 1 – Indiana 0 (OT) – One, two three. One National Championship is an accomplishment, back-to-back National Championships is awesome, and three in a row is beyond amazing and a real tribute to the program at Stanford. A three-peat is rarity in any sport.
The Cardinal men’s soccer team under the direction of head coach Jeremy Gunn became the first team to secure three consecutive National Championships in a row since Virginia claimed four from 1991 through 1994.
The fans on hand and those watching on national television began to brace themselves for the pressure of a penalty kick shootout since that looked to be where the contest was headed when the teams entered the second ten-minute overtime period with the contest still scoreless. However, the contest came to a sudden and decisive ending when Stanford midfielder Sam Werner netted the golden goal for the Cardinal in the 103rd minute of the contest when he created a turnover in the box and then chipped a shot just under the crossbar from ten yards out.
The play began out of a throw-in deep in the attacking third of the field from Stanford freshman defender Logan Panchot to senior forward Corey Baird. Baird one-touched the throw-in back to Panchot who back-heeled it back to Baird. Baird then sent a pass to senior Foster Langsdorf who sent it back to Baird who utilized his left-foot to send the ball into the center of the box where it was intercepted by Indiana’s Griffin Dorsey. Werner then created the turnover that led to the goal when Dorsey attempted to create a little space off the dribble to get out of harm’s way.
The National Championship took place on a cold evening in Chester, Pennsylvania at Talen Energy Stadium where a snow bank lined the field of play. The fact that the match was scoreless at the end of regulation was not surprising due to the fact that both teams have been rock solid on the defensive side of the ball all year. Stanford came into the match having allowed 0.39 goals per game and Indiana only 0.28 goals per game. Both teams have done an excellent job all year, as demonstrated by the number of wins they have secured against an extremely competitive slate of opponents, of avoiding mistakes on the defensive side of the ball.
Both sides also have also been explosive on the offensive side of the ball. The contest had an ebb and a flow to it as both sides sought to gain a numbers advantage and pockets of space that they could exploit. Stanford had a thirteen to five advantage in shots for the evening but neither team had a lot of success in unlocking their opponents defensive scheme and creating really dangerous scoring opportunities.
Nico Corti had one save in goal for Stanford to record the shutout. Freshman Trey Muse who had an impressive evening between the pipes for Indiana had a five save evening.
Werner who also contributed a goal in Stanford’s 2-0 semifinal win over Akron was named the Offensive MVP of the Tournament. Stanford senior center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player.
It was a heartbreaking loss for an Indiana team that had its sights set on earning the programs ninth National Championship. Regardless it was by all measure a banner season for a tradition rich Indiana program that concluded the 2017 season under the direction of head coach Todd Yeagley with a 18-1-6 overall record.
It was a total team effort for a Stanford team that has recorded an amazing twelve consecutive shutouts in NCAA Tournament play. The Cardinal out of the Pac-12 Conference improve to 19-2-2 and for the third year in a row remain the only team standing at the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament.
Another very successful college soccer season from coast to coast is now history.