In a thrilling and emotional 3-2 victory Sunday afternoon in Berkeley, No. 9 Stanford (12-2, 5-0 NorPac) overcame No. 12 California (12-3, 3-2) to secure the NorPac West Division regular season title, the No. 1 seed in the NorPac Tournament and the continued dominance over its rival across the Bay. Stanford, which has not lost to Cal this season, has won nine of 12 matchups in the overall series.
The Cardinal started strong with a goal from junior defender Becky Dru off a penalty stroke in the seventh minute. But Cal’s Andrea Earle answered with a hard goal of her own late in the first period to tie the game 1-1 at the break.
In a testament to the Cardinal defense, Cal failed to score on eight penalty corners in the first 11 minutes of the second half. And it was redshirt sophomore defender Colleen Ryan who regained the lead for the Cardinal in the 17th minute with an assist from sophomore attacker Courtney Haldeman.
Although Cal answered just four minutes later with a goal from Rachelle Comeau to tie the score at 2-2, Stanford pushed through for the win. In the final four minutes, redshirt sophomore attacker Emily Henriksson sealed the game, tapping in the ball off a deflection from Cal goalkeeper Maddie Hand. The Cardinal held on for the 3-2 win, just as it did in the last matchup between the teams on Sept. 23.
The offensive battle between the teams was fairly even; Stanford just barely outshot Cal 12-11, and both teams attempted 10 penalty corners.
The Cardinal defense, never wavering against a California team hungry to send its seniors out with a win in its final home game of the season, came up big for the team.
“We wanted to focus on matching [Cal’s] energy and sticking with them defensively,” said sophomore attacker Hope Burke. “I think our defensive play against Cal today was what made the difference.”
Given both teams’ solid records in conference play, it is likely they will meet again in the NorPac Tournament.
“Every time we play each other it’s always an intense, exciting game. You wouldn’t want anything else,” Burke said. “For now, we’ll just keep focusing on executing the game plan and making the most of our opportunities.”
Sunday’s intense matchup proved to be an exciting change of pace from the Cardinal’s 7-0 rout of Pacific (2-10, 0-5 NorPac) this past Friday. There, it was the Cardinal’s dynamic offense on display with season highs of seven goals and 30 shots. It was a welcome confidence booster for the Card after a tough 6-3 loss at the hands of New Hampshire last weekend.
Stanford’s Ryan and Haldeman scored in the first half to lead 2-0 at halftime, but the offense truly exploded after the break. Burke, scoring twice, was aided by goals from Henriksson, freshman defender Kelsey Harbin and redshirt junior attacker Devon Holman to send the Tigers packing. Dru, who attempted a game-high five shots, also tallied an assist.
The Cardinal will finish conference play with a home matchup against UC-Davis this Friday at 7 p.m.