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Stanford beats Indiana in double OT for 3rd straight title

Members of the Stanford soccer team celebrate after winning the NCAA College Cup championship soccer match against Indiana, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Chester, Pa. (Derik Hamilton / Associated Press)
Members of the Stanford soccer team celebrate after winning the NCAA College Cup championship soccer match against Indiana, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Chester, Pa. (Derik Hamilton / Associated Press)

CHESTER, Pa. – Sam Werner ripped off his shirt, raced the length of the field and was smothered by a swarm of Stanford teammates.

Even for a budding dynasty, that championship feeling isn’t getting old.

Werner scored in the second overtime to lead Stanford to its third straight NCAA men’s soccer title with a 1-0 win over Indiana on Sunday.

The goal was blasted over goalkeeper Trey Muse’s head from close range and sneaked just under the crossbar after an Indiana turnover in the box, setting off a wild celebration.

“I honestly need to watch the tape – I’m not really sure what happened,” Werner said.

Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn then leaned over and whispered something in the midfielder’s ear during the postgame news conference.

“Oh yeah, you’re right, I scored a bike,” Werner said with a laugh.

The golden goal wasn’t quite as pretty as a bicycle kick, but it sure was dramatic.

Before the College Cup final, Indiana (18-1-6) was the only team in the country without a loss. The Hoosiers were denied their first undefeated season in program history and their ninth national championship.

“Our guys had a special year,” Indiana coach Todd Yeagley said. “We often say the best mark you can leave is putting a star on your jersey and we came really close today. But I do know this team will be talked about not only this year or next year but for many years to come.”

The Cardinal (19-2-2), who came into the NCAA tournament as the No. 9 seed, is just the second men’s soccer program to win three straight titles. Virginia, under former U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena, won four in a row from 1991 to 1994.

The Cardinal women won the national championship last weekend, making Stanford the first school to win both soccer titles in the same season.

“I don’t think what it means to us and what it means to the university and program will sink in for a few weeks,” said senior defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce, a key part of all three men’s championship teams.

Anchored by Hilliard-Arce and Indiana’s Grant Lillard, both teams’ defenses limited scoring chances and controlled the flow of the game on a cold day at Talen Energy Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union. Hilliard-Arce and Lillard are finalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy, given to college soccer’s best player, and Hilliard-Arce is expected to be one of the top picks in next month’s MLS draft after ending his college career with three straight titles.

“I could do it again if you guys let me stay another year,” the center back said.

With the defenses playing clean and organized soccer, the best first-half scoring chance came 10 minutes into the game, but Muse made a diving save on Stanford’s Bryce Marion. The freshman goalie had another big stop to keep the game scoreless midway through the second half and snagged a deep shot in overtime.

Muse, who posted an NCAA record 18 shutouts this year and led the country in goals-against average, finished with five saves.

“He gave our group a lot of composure and consistency,” Yeagley said. “I can’t say enough about how good he was this year, and today was no different.”

Both teams were coming off shutouts in Friday’s semifinal matchups, with Stanford beating Akron 2-0 and second-seeded Indiana knocking off North Carolina 1-0.

Before their run of titles began in 2015, with U.S. national team forward and Seattle Sounders star Jordan Morris leading the way, the Cardinal had never won a men’s soccer championship.

“The journey’s been amazing,” Gunn said. “We’ve been fortunate enough with hard work to be celebrating and standing at the end of the season three times.”


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