Daily sports staff: favorite moments of 2017-18

The Cardinal had an amazing year in the 2017-18 calendar. Trying to describe all the incredible moments would take too long to do, so The Daily Sports Staff give their favorite moments of the past year.

Jose Saldana: Sam Werner’s golden goal to win men’s soccer’s third consecutive national title

Stanford and Indiana had been nipping at each other’s heels all game with neither team able to break through the other’s defense. The Hoosiers were the higher ranked team, but the Cardinal were in the third straight NCAA championship game, and they reflected the resiliency of their head coach, Jeremy Gunn. The physicality of both teams caused tempers to flare with junior Sam Werner drawing the ire of the Indiana faithful in attendance. Every time he held possession of the ball, the Hoosiers fans would rain down boos upon the midfielder. Werner seemed unfettered and actually appeared to enjoy the condemnation. So it was only fitting that 103 minutes into the game, Werner would score the sudden-death goal, claiming the Cardinal’s third consecutive national title.

The goal solidified the best era of men’s soccer in the school’s history (if it hadn’t been already), beginning with the very first championship coming in 2015. Seniors Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Foster Langsdorf, Corey Baird, Bryce Marion, Drew Skundrich and Nico Corti all had been the spine of the men’s program for all their years on The Farm. They left such an indelible mark on the program, and it was just a joy to watch.

King Jemison: Stanford football beats Notre Dame 38-20 to complete second Top 10 home victory in three weeks

Stanford had what can only be characterized as an up-and-down football season. It was the ultimate rollercoaster, beginning with the lowest of lows in the back-to-back losses to USC and San Diego State, and then reaching the highest of highs with three straight home wins to close the regular season, including two over Top 10 opponents. Yes, the season ended with another loss to USC in the Pac-12 Championship and a disappointing defeat to TCU in the Alamo Bowl. But we’re picking out good moments of the year, and the momentum with which Stanford closed the regular season was unbelievably good.

The Notre Dame game started out inauspiciously. Stanford trailed for much of the contest, including entering the fourth quarter. But the fourth quarter was a beautiful thing. Stanford outscored the ninth-ranked team in the country 21-0 in that final quarter, racking up three Irish turnovers along the way. At one point, KJ Costello threw touchdowns on two consecutive passes. The Cardinal offense and defense came together in a way that they never did the rest of the season, and it more than made up for the struggles that came before and after. Hopefully, that Stanford team will be the one to suit up against San Diego State on August 31.

Laura Sussman: Women’s tennis winning the NCAA’s

We had all been following women’s tennis, lazily, watching them win but never assigning as much gravity to those wins as we should have. They had been No. 46, yes, you heard that right, No. 46, in March. No amount of wins should shake the bad juju off of that and get you into the Championship Finale. Especially against teams sitting happily in the top-10, waiting on their chance at glory and thinking with relative certainty that it was headed their way.

And then there was women’s tennis again, renewed, now with Melissa Lord and a new attitude. A 20-game win streak and a historically-low national ranking combined to create, well, we had no idea what. Chaos and questions and all of us sitting at the edges of our seats, waiting anxiously. The first round of the NCAA’s came and went, and then somehow the next day the Cardinal were beating No. 17 Michigan and moving up and onwards. Next the first seed, North Carolina, a seemingly easy 4-1 win. A couple more and Stanford was in the finals, against top-ranked Vanderbilt. A give and take of points won, awaiting the inevitable end of a great run, an all-time, for-the-books run. But the Cardinal weren’t done just yet, and Lord came up and delivered the performance of a lifetime. That night, as I wrote the article about the win, all I could imagine was the feeling of holding that banner in their hands, and how proud they must have felt.

Sam Curry: Bryce Love breaks school rushing record against Arizona State

It feels strange picking this one as my favorite moment of the year, as it was just an average Pac-12 matchup. No championships on the line, very low stakes, middle of the day, low attendance at Stanford Stadium — all signs pointed to this being a dull formality of a game. But Bryce Love made it anything but dull, rushing for 301 yards and three touchdowns against the Sun Devils. Even though the stage was fairly small, Love’s game was probably the most amazing athletic performance I’ve ever witnessed live. The sheer athleticism he showed as he took off in the open field over and over again not only carried the Cardinal to victory, but it solidified him as a serious Heisman contender. Sitting in the press box, I remember everyone jokingly calculating the yardage to the end zone each time Stanford got the ball, in preparation for Love taking it the distance, and then watching as he bursted through the line yet again, thinking, “He’s not going to actually do this again is he?” Every time he touched the ball the sparse crowd on that hot afternoon was electrified. This game was Love’s masterpiece of the 2017 season and it showed everyone in the country that he was more than just “McCaffrey’s replacement”.

Alexandre Bucquet: Jaye Boissiere ices UCLA with NCAA-winning goal

Stanford women’s soccer was coming off an incredible year: the team had won its past 21 games, and everything seemed to click for Stanford entering the final game of the season in Orlando, Florida. The heartbreak in the second round of the NCAA tournament during the past season seemed long gone, although some of the nerves were still there. The Cardinal were squaring off against fourth-seed UCLA, whom they had beaten earlier that season by a mere one goal, so the game promised to be interesting.

And indeed it was. Stanford jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first half, and could feel the trophy within reach heading into the locker room. Just as it seemed that UCLA could not make it back, the Bruins tied the game on two back-to-back set pieces. The Cardinal first gave up a penalty, and four minutes later UCLA found the net once again on the corner kick. As I was watching the game, I could not believe what I was seeing: Stanford went from being 40 minutes away from a second program title to being tied in what seemed like seconds.

Eventually, Jaye Boissiere drilled one in for the Cardinal, and what a shot it was. The senior was standing far outside the box, and punched a hole right through the UCLA defensive line as she placed her shot in the left side of the Bruins’ cage. Not only was her goal deserving of a Sports Center top 10 nomination, but it was also a great conclusion to her comeback into the lineup. Last season was Boissiere’s first complete season under the Cardinal jersey, as she had to sit for almost two years and a half due to injuries. Boissiere was eventually named Most Outstanding Player of the College Cup.

Bobby Pragada: Daejon Davis upsets USC with a half court buzzer beater

I studied abroad at Oxford during winter quarter, and on Sunday, Jan. 7, I had just arrived in the United Kingdom. Exhausted from traveling, completely thrown off my sleep schedule and already a little homesick, I crashed into bed late at night and pulled up a low-quality stream of the men’s basketball game at home versus USC. I texted all of my friends back home, telling them to go to the game in my stead, that it was sure to be a good matchup. I watched with bated breath as Stanford, down 15 in the second half slowly but surely rallied their way back against the stronger, less injured USC roster.

It’s now almost 5 a.m., and I was nearly delirious, pulling for the men’s team to pull off the upset. The tension was rising, time was running off the clock, and miraculously, the score was tied, thanks mostly to the exceptional play of Reid Travis, who would finish the game with 29 points. USC’s Jordan McLaughlin had possession of the ball with just five seconds left on the clock, and in a miraculous, acrobatic layup, made the difficult finish to put the Trojans up two points. The Cardinal, stranded without any timeouts and now slightly over two seconds on the clock, inbounded the ball to freshman point guard Daejon Davis, who took two dribbles, pulled up from half court, and let a shot fly, mid stride.

It went in.

And promptly, Maples Pavilion exploded. The call on FS1 is absolutely chilling to rewatch, as the announcer yells, “Davis at the horn … WINS IT” and the other players on the court, the rest of the bench and the entire student section come flooding from the stands and go completely ballistic. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away I am in my room, equally jubilant, and wishing more than anything that I was at the game.

This upset victory was the second in a five game win streak for the Cardinal, during which the team looked the best it did all season, seriously contending for the Pac-12 title, even if only briefly. I watched every game, huddled at my computer late at night, compensating for the time difference, but nothing would compare to that buzzer beater. The very best part about it? Davis didn’t even know he had won the game. He knew his team was behind but didn’t realize his shot had ended the game in favor of the Cardinal until he saw the massive crowd of people chasing him down.

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