Stanford University men’s soccer team raising their first ever NCAA national championship trophy on was not only a feel good moment for the program and the players, but also for the entire state of California as 12 players on the roster grew up playing youth soccer in The Golden State.
Of those 12 players, one hails from the San Diego area and that is midfielder Corey Baird. A player you are going to want to keep an eye out for.
Baird wrapped up his sophomore season with Stanford tied for second on the team in assists (11) and points (17). He also added three goals in 23 starts. Baird played locally for San Diego Surf before moving over to the Real Salt Lake – Arizona Academy for his senior season. Baird has been involved with U.S. Youth National Teams from U-14 to U-20 and was recently called into a U-23 Men’s National Team College Identification Training Camp in early August 2015.
Baird spoke to SoccerNation.com about winning the NCAA College Cup, how he emerged as a player this year and growing up in San Diego.
SOCCERNATION: It has been a few weeks since the College Cup. You’ve had time to think about it. How does it feel?
BAIRD: It’s an unbelievable feeling. From the beginning of the season, that was the goal for us. We set high expectations for ourselves because we thought we could get there. And not only that but win the Pac-12. It was an unbelievable season.
SOCCERNATION: Stanford scored four goals in the win against Clemson, you contributed on two goals. At one point did it set in that you were going to win?
BAIRD: I think it was after Brandon’s [Vincent] PK when we went up by three goals. I was like ‘wow, with the defense we have I don’t see us throwing this game away’, and then Eric [Verso] scored the fourth goal. That was when it set it. Can’t describe that feeling.
SOCCERNATION: Looking back on you College Cup run, what stands out to you?
BAIRD: I think our win against Wake Forest on the road in the quarterfinals was a huge turning point in our season. Going to their place and playing the #1 seed in front of their crowd was a big point in our season when everyone started to believe in themselves a little extra.
SOCCERNATION: You really emerged this year as a player that opposing teams need to prepare for. What went into that progression?
BAIRD: Something I wanted to focus on this year was more productivity. I didn’t want to have nice plays that resulted in nothing. I wanted to get more points, more assists, and more goals and be a bigger influence on the team. I think I owe part of that to our forwards for finishing the chances that they had.
SOCCERNATION: Stanford is losing some big names this year. Brandon Vincent and possibly Jordan Morris. What does that mean for the team?
BAIRD: Those are two huge losses. Brandon is our captain and a huge influence on our team. But I know we have a lot of guys working hard and ready to step up. I’m sure we will be able to put together another run next year.
SOCCERNATION: What does it mean to you being from California and helping a California school win a championship?
BAIRD: Staying in California was something I really wanted to do and getting that first ever title for Stanford is an amazing accomplishment because of how well the Stanford athletic program is regarded. Being able to say we contributed to their streak of winning national championships is just a great feeling. Being surrounded by all the great athletes makes you want to push it more.
SOCCERNATION: How did growing up in San Diego help you become the player you are?
BAIRD: I was lucky enough at a young age to play with some of the top players in Southern California at Surf. It shows how good the talent is from San Diego and all the other players out here. Being affiliated with some of those teams allowed me to really push myself because I didn’t want to just can’t be complacent with being a good player from San Diego. Surf gave me those opportunities.