The Stanford women’s soccer team routed Oregon State 5-1 at home Thursday night to take the early lead in the Pac-12 conference and extend its unbeaten run at home to 60 games.
The No. 2 Cardinal (8-1-1) comfortably defeated the No. 23 Beavers (9-1-1) to win its second game of the Pac-12 conference and make it six wins in a row. Stanford’s goals came from sophomore forward Chioma Ubogagu, redshirt junior forward Courtney Verloo, redshirt freshman midfielder Haley Rosen, senior midfielder Nina Watkins and senior midfielder Mariah Nogueira — Oregon State’s late consolation goal was scored by freshman midfielder Gwen Bieck.
After Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe described the first half against Arizona State last weekend as the worst of its season so far, the Card opened last night’s contest in style. Beavers junior goalkeeper Audrey Bernier-Larose could only get fingertips to Ubogagu’s shot just three minutes into the game and things only got better for the home side. Verloo controlled a long free kick taken by senior defender Alina Garciamendez to grab her fourth goal in four consecutive games halfway through the first period, and when Haley Rosen put the ball past Bernier-Larose four minutes later, it looked like Stanford may have already put the game out of OSU’s reach.
“It was a wakeup call last week,” Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “We started slowly and then today we started fast and you saw what we’re capable of doing if we start quick. I thought the energy level was much better tonight and people looked excited to play.”
The Cardinal returned for the second half in even better form than it had started the first. Watkins scored the team’s fourth goal just 51 seconds into the period and became the 12th Stanford player to score this year.
“I think that we have a really dynamic attack this year and everyone is capable of scoring,” Verloo said. “We have our midfielders scoring, our forwards scoring, center backs scoring. It’s really been from everywhere, which is awesome, and I really think it makes us more of a threat.”
With a comfortable four-goal cushion, Stanford began to relax and start playing fearlessly, showing flashes of the play that brought it the national title last year. Though OSU refused to give in, pressing and tackling hard, one-touch passes and tricks cut holes through the opposition. The Cardinal’s fifth goal came when Ubogagu’s back-heeled the ball down the line to senior defender Rachel Quon, who passed neatly to junior forward Natalie Griffen. From the right Griffen then crossed the ball into the path of Nogueira to easily head past the Beavers’ goalkeeper.
“One of the best goals you’ll see,” said Ratcliffe. “We’ve seen that before. Last year that was happening a lot; this year you’re seeing flashes of it, but for me that was an amazing goal. The quality of the passing, the movement off the ball and then the final cross and the header. Incredible.”
As the clock wore down, Oregon State finally got one goal back when senior midfielder Megan Miller’s corner was put away by Bieck. That score ended a run of 20 unanswered goals and five shutouts by the Cardinal and meant that junior goalkeeper Emily Oliver’s first full game back would not quite be flawless.
“You’re gonna make mistakes every once in a while,” Oliver said, “and I think we learn from that. It was a great goal on their part. You move on, and you can’t be perfect every time.”
Next up for Stanford is Oregon (5-3-2, Pac-12 0-0-1) at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium this Sunday at noon. The Ducks tied their first conference game 0-0 against Colorado and will face California at 2 p.m. today before making the trip across the Bay to the Farm.