On Monday, No. 10 Stanford men’s soccer (6-1-3, 0-1-3 Pac-12) faced the Santa Clara Broncos (4-5-2, 2-0 Pac-12) for their 10th game of the season. After no goals scored for either team in the first half, the Cardinal netted two goals to end with a 2-0 victory.
The second goal of the night came from sophomore forward Fletcher Bank, one half of the Bank twins, who dominate Stanford’s left side. But the Bank brothers were not the only set of siblings on the field.
Cardinal midfielder and sophomore Zach Bohane was playing against his brother, Santa Clara midfielder Noah Bohane. Their on-field competition contributed to the palpable intensity of the game, including a moment when Noah was called for a yellow card after tackling Zach.
Head coach Jeremy Gunn used the team’s early-season challenges as an opportunity to introduce some fresh legs. Monday’s changes to the starting lineup included junior midfielder Layton Purchase replacing redshirt senior captain Mark Fisher in the midfield and freshman striker Duncan Jarvie earning a starting spot.
“We’ve had a couple of knocks [who] could have played tonight. But I got to use it as an excuse to be able to give other people looks,” Gunn said. “It was a great night to be able to make changes to see the players really take their opportunities to fight for more minutes.”
Gunn’s aspirations for the game came to fruition. Six minutes into the second half, Purchase scored his first goal of the season, coming off a header assist by junior center back Noah Adnan. Purchase’s goal shifted the energy of the game.
“When it’s still at nil-nil, anything can happen, and you can start to get frustrated. So I think [the goal] was a good reward for what we were doing,” Gunn said.
Capitalizing on its momentum, the Cardinal quickly followed with a second goal in the 56th minute. The play was set up by a through ball from junior midfielder Shane de Flores to Fletcher, who bolted down the left side of the field to finish beautifully into the back right corner of the net.
“We’ve been talking in practice about trying to play vertical … We kind of just flowed through the midfield … and I saw the run and I just thought about slotting it back post and it was open,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher followed up his goal with an enthusiastic celebration, jumping over the fence to embrace his mom, a constant support for both Bank twins throughout their soccer careers.
Gunn notes that the twins’ unique connection is a significant advantage, proving tough competition for opposing players.
“Is there a special telepathic thing between twins? Who knows. But they really do complement each other out there, and they do a fantastic job down the left side,” Gunn said. “Any right-sided players wake up on game day going against those two can’t be happy about that.”
Recognizing the advantages in on-field communication with his brother, Palmer, Fletcher knows the brotherly bond helps their performance.
“I think it’s great because we know each other. I mean, we’ve lived in the same room, lived with each other and been best friends for 20 years. So it’s easy to communicate,” Fletcher said. “I feel like we have kind of twin telepathy on the left side and a little bit of chemistry, so we know where each other are.”
“It’s also nice being able to just kind of be honest with each other. If you’re feeling like one play isn’t going the right way it’s not awkward: it’s a blessing,” Fletcher said.
Meanwhile, the Bohane brothers were showing a different kind of sibling dynamic: rivalry.
Zach recounts how the brotherly brawl affected his play: “There were a couple of challenges where [Noah] got the best of me. There was one near the sideline … he’s been waiting to put that one in since … we were younger,” Zach said. “But it was a lot of fun. I was just laughing … It was good to see that the hunger was there and [he] put in a good tackle.”
Gunn witnessed the sibling rivalry manifest on the field and acknowledged that the familial competition enhanced Zach’s play.
“Zach definitely sprinted harder to make sure he kicked his brother, and so I don’t think it was a bad challenge. It was an ‘I’m gonna get you’ challenge that probably happened in the backyard a hundred times already,” Gunn said.
Sibling dynamics aside, tonight’s win is a big one: according to Fletcher, the Cardinal need two wins this week to regain confidence and improve their position for the upcoming Pac-12 tournament.
This Thursday, Stanford will face off at home at Cagan again, this time against USF (3-7, 1-3 AAC) at 6 p.m.