On Sunday night in Houston, Timbers Academy alums Foster Langsdorf, Sam Werner, along with their Stanford University teammates became back-to-back NCAA national champions with a 5-4 penalty kick win over Wake Forest University.
To get to the final, Stanford first had to get past North Carolina University in Friday night's semifinal.
After 110 scoreless minutes, the Cardinal defeated the Tar Heels after 10 rounds of a back-and-forth penalty kick shootout. Both Langsdorf and Werner scored their penalty kick attempts as they and their teammates combined to convert all 10 of their shootout efforts. North Carolina's Alex Comsia shot high on his final attempt, sending the Cardinal through to the final against Wake Forest, Stanford's second in two years.
The final itself was a tense, defensive affair as neither side's defense appeared willing to crack.
Like the semifinal against North Carolina, 110 minutes of scoreless play transpired before the Cardinal players had to once again line up from the spot for a penalty kick shootout.
As in the previous shootout, the Cardinal players demonstrated their battle-tested mettle and experience. Langsdorf stepped up to the spot for his team's second penalty kick and, demonstrating the steel he's shown throughout the tournament, calmly buried his effort to give Stanford the 2-1 shootout advantage.
It was Timbers Academy alumnus Sam Werner (No. 23, above) who provided the winning penalty kick, slotting his side's sixth-round effort right up the middle to make the score 5-4.
Stanford goalkeeper Andrew Epstein did the rest, diving to his right to deny Brad Dunwell's shot and sending his teammates out towards goal as they mobbed the goalkeeper and began celebrating their second consecutive national championship.
The two scoreless draws extended Stanford's incredible postseason run of shutout play to all five of its College Cup matches and 732 consecutive minutes of overall postseason shutout play dating back to last season.
Langsdorf, meanwhile, finished the tournament with three goals – all game-winners – good for a tie for second among all NCAA tournament goal scorers. In all, Langsdorf netted 15 goals during the 2016 season, the highest number of goals scored in a season by a Stanford men's player since 1981.
The Vancouver, Wash. native explained how his game has evolved since his days at the Timbers Academy in a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.
“I’d get really amped up for games,” Langsdorf told the Chronicle. “I played on bad fields all my life, and now I was wearing the $60 Portland jersey that I got for free. I was going to play my heart out. I was pretty reckless. I was a maniac.”
Throughout this year's College Cup, Langsdorf showed flashes of that youthful recklessness, throwing his entire body towards the ball in pursuit of a goal. Time and time again, that persistence paid off as all three of Langsdorf's tournament goals came off of his head, including a crucial game-winner in extra time against the University of Virginia Cavaliers.
Werner, a redshirt sophomore, finished the tournament having played 218 minutes off the bench for the Cardinal. Werner scored Stanford's second goal against Louisville in its 2-0 quarterfinal victory and provided critical penalty kick finishes against both North Carolina and Wake Forest.
Stanford's victory made it the first NCAA Division I school to repeat as champions since Indiana University won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004.