Aztecs proceed with Pac-12 play in Palo Alto

by Patrick Carr , Staff Writer

Five days after a close 1-0 home loss to the No. 2 ranked team in the country, San Diego State’s men’s soccer team will head north and face No. 15 Stanford University.

SDSU is a young, inexperienced team that’s quickly finding its feet in the Pac-12 Conference — arguably the toughest conference in the country with only one team outside the Top 25. That outlying team? The 6-4 SDSU Aztecs.

The Cardinal are a lot better than the No. 15 ranking indicates. They’re fresh off a loss to top-ranked University of Washington — just the second loss on the season for Stanford.

But SDSU is hungry, too, having lost three of its last four matches and yet to win on the road this season.

Historically, the Aztecs have done well against the Cardinal with 12 wins against eight losses and five draws, but they haven’t won in Palo Alto since 2009 and haven’t beaten Stanford since a 1-0 home win in 2011.

As the season has seen, numbers don’t tell the whole story — they never do. The Cardinal will be a tough test for SDSU, and the rest of the season will only get tougher for the Aztecs, who will have to play the top two teams in the country and two other teams who are in the Top 25.

Thursday’s match could help quantify where SDSU stands as far as the rest of that brutal conference schedule.

On the individual side, freshman forward David Olsen leads the Aztecs with six goals. Sophomore forward Forrayah Bass has also turned in a good all-around performance with three goals and four assists.

They’ll lead a young, talented SDSU squad up against a Stanford side that’s only given up three goals at home while also scoring 13. The Cardinal also bring a balanced scoring attack to the table, led by junior defender Brandon Vincent’s team-leading four goals.

If there’s any way that numbers do tell a story, it’s that the Aztecs have scored five second-half goals and only conceded one. Head coach Lev Kirshner and his staff have been smart to recognize what works in the second half as teams start to wear out.

And in a road conference game against a tough, physical Stanford group, that recognition could prove to be the tipping point.

Kirshner can also be pleased that SDSU’s early-season defensive troubles have somewhat disappeared. The Aztecs have conceded just four goals in the past five games, compared to seven conceded in the first five games.

It’ll be a battle Thursday night. Unfortunately, the Cardinals don’t lose at home very often and there’s not too much reason to pick against them.



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