Just a few short years ago, the Stanford men’s soccer team was celebrating its first winning conference season in six seasons.
That seems like a stretch from the team’s current position as it vies for its first College Cup, but the improvements have been steady under coach Jeremy Gunn. The team started 9-8-1 in 2012 and added at least one victory a season to finish 10-7-4 in 2014 and 13-3-3 in 2014.
This year’s team is 17-2-2 as it prepares to face Akron in Friday’s national semifinals at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
That game, and the match between Clemson and Syracuse will be shown on ESPNU at 5 p.m. and then 7:30. The final will be played on Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets for Friday's semifinals range from $24 to $115 and are available through Ticketmaster.
Stanford is coming off a 2-1 overtime victory against top-ranked Wake Forest. Forster Langsdorf buried a header in the 97th minute that secured Stanford’s first College Cup berth since 2001.
Stanford’s opponent, Akron won the title in 2010. Akron has a program-best winning percentage of 73.3 under coach Jared Embick and topped Creighton in overtime last round.
On the other side of the bracket, Syracuse is playing in its first semifinals. The Orange topped Boston College 1-0 on Saturday at home to advance. Syracuse is currently ranked sixth with a 16-5-3 record.
Syracuse will face No. 2 Clemson, which battled for a victory against Maryland in penalty kicks. Clemson is in the College Cup for the first time in 10 years.
Sporting Park, the home of 2013 MLS champion Sporting Kansas City, will also serve as the host for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Division II football championships.