In the second matchup of the Men’s College Cup at Sporting Park, the pace picked up, but neither Stanford nor Akron could get it in the back of the net in regulation, or overtime.
Instead for the second time on Friday, the national semifinal was decided by penalty kicks. But the penalty kicks were an amazing 10-round battle in which Stanford came out on top 8-7 thanks to a last save by Andrew Epstein. The Cardinal will face Clemson on Sunday for the NCAA Championship.
The biggest play of penalty kicks was Akron’s Goncalo Soares hittng the left post. If Soares scored, Stanford would have been packing their bags for Palo Alto.
“When the ball hit the post, I was just over the world,” Epstein said. “After that, it's ‘can you make a save’ and it happened on the last one.”
In the first half, No. 4 Akron's high-powered offense was held down by the Cardinal. The Zips took zero shots in a half for the second time all year. They finally got off 10 shots by the end of the game.
“Our defenders just really made life difficult to shoot despite their great possession,” coach Jeremy Gunn said.
No. 8 Stanford got two nice runs by Foster Langsdorf.
Fenlason ended the match with six solid saves.
“I tried to approach just like another game,” Fenlason said of his performance. “Obviously anxious when I got out there, but warming up I felt good and then when that happens, good things happen.”
Stanford was the upstart of the tournament, getting back to the College Cup for the first time since 2002.
A big factor was junior forward Jordan Morris. One of the top players in the country, Morris was called up to U.S. Men’s National Teams during Stanford’s regular season finale for two matches of 2018 World Cup Qualifying. He also missed several games throughout the season with the U.S. Team.