When Sam Werner recovered the ball at the heart of the Indiana penalty area, he didn’t have much time to think. With the national championship still scoreless in its second overtime period, all Werner needed to do was something Stanford struggled to accomplish all day — put the ball past Indiana goalkeeper Trey Muse.
And so, he let it fly with his first touch, ripping a strike over Muse’s head and tucking it just under the crossbar. When the ball hit the back of the net, it was celebration time for the Cardinal.
Behind Werner’s golden goal, Stanford defeated Indiana, 1-0, Sunday to win the 2017 College Cup in front of 5,764 at Talen Energy Stadium.
— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) December 10, 2017
“I need to watch the tape, I’m honestly not really sure what happened,” Werner said, a smile plastered on his face. “It felt great. … It certainly took some pressure off, getting one in overtime [and not going to penalties].”
The title is the Cardinal’s third straight. They’re the first team to win three consecutive national championships since Virginia won four straight from 1991-94.
Sunday’s championship game in Chester doubled as a battle between the old guard and the new blood of the collegiate men’s soccer.
The Hoosiers, a blue-blood program ranking in second all-time in national titles with eight, had their eyes set on the throne they haven’t sat on since 2012. On the other end was Stanford, the two-time defending champion that has dominated the recent history of the sport.
When the dust cleared on a frantic final minutes of overtime soccer, the one left standing was the new king of the block. The match itself, like many finals of this caliber, was a physical affair.
The second half was far more hectic than the first, with frequent quick counterattacks and more chances. The best scoring occasion of regulation came just after the hour mark, when Foster Langsdorf sent Corey Baird through on goal with a perfectly weighted pass, only for Muse to come off his line quickly to make the save.
It was one of many times Muse came up big for the Hoosiers. His two first half saves kept the Cardinal off the board during their best stretch of play in the final half-hour of the opening period.
“He made the one or two saves that we needed and was really steady,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said. “Gave our group a lot of composure, a lot of consistency. … I think the goal was pretty darn difficult [to deal with].”
But Muse could only stand on his head for so long — 103 minutes, to be exact. It was then Stanford slotted the ball past him, the final kick of their latest journey to the title. Soon after, they raised the trophy on a makeshift stage on the pitch for a third straight December, a tradition the Cardinal hope doesn’t end anytime soon.
“We’ve been fortunate enough through our hard work to be standing and celebrating at the end of the season three times, but the journeys are amazing,” Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn said. “It’s really, really cool. We get the success at the end, saying that we’re champions, and to have that three times is amazing, it really is.”