On a wet and dreary Sunday at Sporting Park for the men’s College Cup, grabbing an early lead and pushing hard in the second half made this difference for Stanford.
The Cardinal was fortunate to have its star striker Jordan Morris in the right place twice. His two goals helped clinch a 4-0 victory over Clemson for the program’s first men’s soccer national championship.
In the second minute, Morris had an excellent strike with his right foot, but the set up by Corey Baird was excellent as well.
Baird sprinted down the left side where he hit a pass to the middle. Mark Verso had the awareness for another nice touch to Morris for the open score that soared into the right side of the net.
“Whenever we go out, we want to score first,” Morris said. “Scoring early not only gives me confidence, but the rest of the team as well.”
In the 51st minute, Morris had some more magic. He made a clinical turn near the box and then poked one past the keeper for a two-goal advantage. Baird was a part of the assist once again.
Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn praised Morris on how well he played Sunday and how he’s handled an incredible season.
“With a guy like Jordan we’re in awe of some of the incredible things he does, but we’re also in so much of support of him because he such a great guy with the group,” Gunn said.
Morris, who spent time on the United States men’s national team in 2015, ranked this game up there with many of his great experiences on and off the Stanford team.
“It’s such a cool thing to experience something bigger than yourself,” Morris said of the national title. “I get to experience it with my teammates up here who are amazing guys that have made the last three years unforgettable. It’s definitely up there because I get to experience with these guys.”
Morris will have several opportunities to look at, including turning professional, but he won’t make any decisions until a later date.
The Stanford defense proved to be huge throughout the match. The Cardinal did not allow a goal in 200 minutes of College Cup play.
“The thing I talked about going into the tournament is the great balance we have,” Gunn said. “We’re a good attacking team. We showed that today, but we’re also tremendous at the back.”
Later in the second half, Morris was fouled inside the box in the 71st minute, co-captain Brandon Vincent took a penalty kick and easily put it home to put the game out of reach.
Verso added on the last goal and had a little fun in the 74th minute. He tore off his jersey and slid to his teammates, showing off his black heart rate monitor.
“Probably not the best look with the sports bra underneath,” Verso said with a big smile. “I was just so excited in the moment. I was just so happy that I had finally scored, especially in the final.”