Forced to come from behind twice, Charlie Wehan’s 85th-minute goal secured a 3-3 draw for No. 1 Stanford at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night.
The match had it all and for a side that often manages game with a lead, the Cardinal’s performance displayed the mettle required for a team in search of its fourth national title in five years.
Stanford (7-0-1) was down two 20 minutes after Finn Ballard McBride (14:23) and Will Baynham (19:06) scored for the Gauchos (6-2-1). A corner by Thibault Candia led to a scramble in the box that McBride was able to backheel into the goal. Five minutes later it was a Baynham header off an Ignacio Tellechea free-kick that put the Cardinal in a two-score hole.
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It was Stanford’s first two-goal deficit of the season and first since last Nov. 30 in the quarterfinals against Akron. The Cardinal hadn’t been down two goals in the regular season since a 2-0 loss at Saint Louis on Sept. 23, 2017.
“We’ve had an incredible start,” Knowles Family Director of Men’s Soccer Jeremy Gunn said. “We’re 7-0 and now we’re on the road against a solid team and we’re 2-0 down. That’s the perfect opportunity to take a loss, lick your wounds and get back on the bus. Instead, we dug in, fought back and showed immense courage. I’m proud of what we did tonight.”
Came from behind twice.
Had our chances.
— Stanford Men’s Soccer (@StanfordMSoccer) September 29, 2019
Similar to the Cardinal’s conference-opener against Cal, it was an Arda Bulut goal before the half that swung momentum back in Stanford’s direction. A ball into the box in the 43rd minute was touched over to the junior striker by Ousseni Bouda. Bulut settled and rifled his left-footed attempt past Ben Roach to pull one back for the Cardinal.
“With that we’re halfway there,” Gunn added. “It was a big goal before the half when we could have been sulking.”
Coming right out of the half, Stanford equalized when Keegan Hughes was left unmarked and headed in Logan Panchot’s corner in the 48th minute. It was the freshman’s first career goal.
UCSB went back ahead in the 63rd when Rodney Michael’s incredible effort went upper left 90 to make it 3-2. The goal came seconds after an acrobatic Andrew Thomas save on an attempt from Baynham.
Just needing to kill the clock late in the match, UCSB left the Cardinal free up the left side. Bulut got the ball into the box and it was punched away by Roach, but right to Zach Ryan. Ryan swung his right leg and knocked it over to Charlie Wehan, whose header was absolutely perfect at the right post. Stanford was back even for the second time.
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The Cardinal’s best chance for victory came in the 98th minute when Tanner Beason’s header off a corner hit the inside of the right post, but bounced out instead of ricocheting into the back of the net. On the same play, UCSB’s Faouzi Taieb went down with a leg injury and was taken off in an ambulance following a 30-minute stoppage.
Andrew Thomas, forced to make six saves, came up huge late in the second overtime when he parried away Rodney Michael’s shot that appeared to be a surefire game-winner.
Still unbeaten, the result was Stanford’s first draw following seven consecutive wins to open its season. The Cardinal begins conference-play at home next Thursday night against No. 10 Washington (7-1-0). Stanford has won five consecutive Pac-12 titles.
“We have nine conference games left to play and we’re excited to get into it,” Gunn said. “We’re battle-hardened, continuously learning and growing and ready to fight.”