On August 10th Stanford men’s soccer officially kicked off their season by taking the field for their first practice of the year in preparation for their preseason game against Sacramento State on August 13.
But where should our expectations be set for this championship team before they start the season on August 26th?
The first thing that comes to mind when trying to predict how strong this team will play following last years National Title wining performance is that Jordan Morris is no longer on the team. One of the stars last year would have been a senior but decided to go pro after delaying his career last season to stick with Stanford. The Cardinal lose 13 goals and 30 shots on goal with his departure. Despite his void there is a strong roster here and it would be a mistake to over look them.
The best argument for the Cardinal’s success lies in goaltender Andrew Epstein who has 31 wins to his name. One of the vets on this team who helped Stanford to the title, Epstein will help anchor this defense no matter what changes take place on the rest of this roster.
But other vets will also need to answer the bell and step up. Players like Corey Baird who had 13 assists and 31 shots on goal last season at midfielder or Foster Langsdorf at forward who had 7 goals and 40 shots on goal. Then their is the team captain Brian Nana-Sinkam at defender who helped the Cardinal defense to only let up 15 goals all season and .62 goals against average, which ranked sixth in the country. These core players are who the team will look to for leadership to steady the helm through the season.
The reason it is so important for these vets to step into bigger roles together is because of the youth on this team. Stanford will have eight redshirt and true freshman on a 23 man roster. There are also a few redshirt sophomores and juniors who only have played in a handful of games. Their will definitely be a learning curve for this team to start the season. The defense will be tested and stretched as new forwards and midfielders are broken in and learn the ropes. The scoring will probably be up to a few guys. But this is a dangerous team.
Coming into this season they are ranked number one over teams like Akron, Clemson And Wake Forest. The team has brought in two freshman in particular, Jared Gilbey and Marc Joshua, who stood out in high school and on their U16 and U18 teams respectively for their scoring ability.
Once this team gets on the same page and starts rolling the Stanford soccer program should be a solid unit for the rest of the season.