This weekend, the No. 4 Stanford women’s soccer team (14-1-2, 6-1-1 Pac-12) will be coming home after its three-day road trip in Arizona, in which it claimed victory in both games in two very different ways, both equally impressive. This time, Stanford will play host to Oregon (6-8-2, 2-5-1) and Oregon State (0-13-3, 0-7-0) in its final homestand of the season as the regular season draws to a close.
Against Arizona on Sunday, senior forward Chioma Ubogagu scored both goals and the Cardinal defense and sophomore goalkeeper Jane Cambell bagged another shutout, as they rolled in remarkable fashion to their fourth consecutive victory after their only loss on the season. In the preceding match against ASU, senior forward Taylor Uhl had a hand in all three goals — an assist and her 50th and 51st career goals — as the Cardinal found themselves in a dogfight with the Sun Devils.
The victories, and perhaps more importantly, the manners of the victories, should be considerable confidence boosters for Stanford heading to the home stretch of the season in which the team faces two bottom-dwellers in the conference in the Oregon schools before heading up to Berkeley for the final match of the regular season.
The Cardinal were dominant in their win over Arizona, and less so against ASU, but it does not detract in any way from the grit necessitated in the victory, something that will be increasingly required of all the top teams as they gear up for the beginning of the NCAA Tournament. Perhaps the most positive trend of all is the emergence of Taylor Uhl, who has been fantastic all season long, but has recently combusted into a crackling run of form that has seen her garner four points — three on goals — in just three games.
Teammate and sophmore midfielder Siobhan Cox was hardly surprised by the timing of Uhl’s spree.
“She’s always great in practice, always perfectly places the ball,” Cox said. “It was really only a matter of time before they started falling… We’re all so close and we love [this] game so much, we feel as if we can overcome [anything].”
And so the Cardinal take the momentum of the two wins into the matchup against Oregon at Cagan Stadium on Thursday night, ready for Oregon’s best shot. The Ducks are much better than their record indicates, as 13 of their 16 games have been decided by just a single goal or less. Meanwhile, two of the three remaining games were 2-0 victories. Oregon has only once not been in a position to tie or win in the final minutes, and that was in their previous game, a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of a visiting No. 1 UCLA team.
Furthermore, Oregon’s game on Sunday marked the first time the Ducks had conceded more than two goals all year long. Previously, Oregon had given up more than one goal in a game twice — both in 2-1 losses, coming to BYU and Colorado. The Ducks have a decent claim to be one of the most unfortunate teams in the nation, but they come to Stanford facing a tough task. Oregon senior goalkeeper Abby Steele has recorded 49 saves this season and has kept the Ducks in close games behind an aggressive defense.
In stark contrast to their football team, however, the offense has been anemic for the Ducks and has struggled at times to keep the ball. They run headlong into, statistically, the best defense in the country in the Cardinal. The game should provide a great test for the recently prolific and, in terms of chances, long-overdue explosion in Stanford’s offense. The Cardinal forwards should be able to see plenty of the ball and still get the chance to attack a very solid back four for Oregon that is well-protected by covering midfielders. At the same time, Stanford can expect a tight, hard-fought game from the Ducks, rebounding from the heels of their first rout loss of the season.
“It’s great to be number one [in RPI, but] we always take it game by game, regardless as whose coming up, so we’re focused on Thursday’s game,” Cox said.
The game against Oregon is the second-to-last home game of the regular season and will be the final night game of the regular season at Cagan Stadium. The game will be at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Nicholas Radoff at nradoff ‘at’ stanford.edu.