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No. 1 Stanford men’s soccer plays Saint Mary’s to 2-2 draw

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STANFORD Calif. (Via Stanford University) – Down a man and two goals, Stanford fought back and the top-ranked Cardinal scored two goals three minutes apart late in regulation to earn a 2-2 draw with Saint Mary’s on Sunday night.

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In the 78th minute Bryce Marion used a clever feed to Foster Langsdorf on a set piece from 25 yards out and Langsdorf beat Saint Mary’s (0-0-2) keeper Andrew Konstantino with his left to get the Cardinal (0-0-2) on the board for the first time in 2016. In the 81st, Tanner Beason whipped a ball in from the left and Drew Skundrich climbed highest to equalize.

Both goals came with Stanford down to 10 men after Tomas Hilliard-Arce was sent off in the 77th minute.

“We were in a terrible situation when we could have easily been up in the game and we fought back,” Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn said. “We showed great resiliency and were the better team with 10 men. At the end of regulation we were looking like the team to score. I’m really proud of how we kept going.”

The goals were a much-needed boost to a group dominating possession and chances, but with nothing to show for it. The Cardinal outshot the Gaels 11-4 in the first half, but managed just two on frame. On their back foot for much of the opening period, Saint Mary’s struck first when Max Mirner headed in his first of the season off a Stephen Dougherty free kick.

With some momentum heading into the break, SMC kept it going in the second half. A deflection off a pass from Jakub Svehlik landed right at the foot of Dougherty, who rocketed in his goal in front of an exuberant Saint Mary’s bench.

“In in the first 40 minutes we were very, very comfortable,” Gunn added. “We’d give up one set-piece header and that was it. We were completely on top. It’s just about converting a chance and then we’ll settle down. They score a good-headed free kick and it changed the complexion of the game. [We came out] in the second half with 45 minutes to get ourselves back in it and then gave away a good strike. It’s two good finishes, two goals, and we’re in a huge hole.”

Stanford, which wasn’t lost at home since 2014, didn’t wilt. Sam Werner’s whipped cross found Skundrich in the 58th, but his attempt was high. Marion’s floated ball went to Skundrich’s head nine minutes later only to be poked over the bar by Konstantino. Of Skundrich’s five shots Sunday night, three forced SMC saves.

The Cardinal finally broke through less than a minute after Hilliard-Arce’s red and regained its offensive footing to earn the draw.

“We know that we’ve played good enough soccer to win the games, but we know that we have to finish chances,” Gunn said. “It’s as simple as that, [but] those things will come. Sometimes in the beginning of the year you just want to get going and it took a little bit longer to open the account [for us]. If we’d buried a chance in the first 10 minutes on Friday, we could have caught six or ten this weekend. Those things happen and we have to take where we are and be ready for another exciting weekend coming up.”

In closing out its season-opening weekend with a pair of draws, Stanford upped its home unbeaten streak to 14 (10-0-4). In its last 28 matches at Cagan Stadium, the Cardinal is 19-1-8. A pair of difficult tests await at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Indiana next weekend. Stanford meets No. 9 Notre Dame on Friday at 2:30 p.m. PT and faces tournament host and No. 15 Indiana on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. PT.

“Our attitude it good,” Gunn commented. “It’s early in the season. We’d like to be winning these games, but the great thing is that when things haven’t gone our way we’ve still managed to stay in there. We have to be proud of what our players have done in the end.”

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