Coming off a strong win against Colorado on Sunday, No. 4 Stanford women’s soccer (12-2, 6-0 Pac-12) will head up north on Thursday to take on No. 25 Washington State (11-3, 4-2).
Although it is currently ranked first in the Pac-12, Stanford will face a worthy opponent in the Cougars, a team that consistently gives the Cardinal trouble. Five of the teams’ six most recent matchups have been decided by one goal, with Stanford most recently winning 1-0 last year.
The Cardinal will rely on their trends of controlling possession and maintaining a high tempo, as they have outshot opponents 268 to 75 this season.
The problem for the Cardinal, however, has been capitalizing on the myriad of opportunities their offense often serves up, as they only have 26 goals to show for it.
Stanford will look to underclassmen like freshman forward Tegan McGrady to put up solid numbers. McGrady has been active in the Cardinal offense as of late, recording two assists and a goal in her past three games.
The prevalence of youth talent has been a consistent storyline for Paul Ratcliffe’s team this season, as four of the team’s top five leaders in points are underclassmen.
”We don’t even see them as underclassmen on this team,” junior captain Maddie Bauer said. “We are all on the same level. We all have the same goal in mind: To win a Pac-12 and National Championship.”
The freshmen have matured and showed me what they can provide to the team. I am so happy they are here and they have provided a huge boost for our team. They are pretty incredible.”
Beyond McGrady, Stanford will also look to sophomore midfielder Andi Sullivan, who leads the team with 5 goals, and fifth-year senior forward Haley Rosen to energize the offense.
This offensive attack will be countered by a Washington State defense that has played tremendously this year, allowing just 12 goals in the team’s 14 games. In addition, the Cougars will be eager to bounce back from their 1-0 loss at home to unranked Arizona last Friday. The game, played in front of the largest crowd in school history, was tightly contested, and Thursday’s matchup won’t be much different.
The Cardinal defense has allowed only 9 goals this season, giving it the second-best goals-against average in the Pac-12. Stanford will have to watch out for Washington State junior forward Kaitlyn Johnson and senior forward Kourtney Guetlein, who have both notched 6 goals this season for the Cougars.
Stanford’s physical style of play could be difficult for Washington State to break through, and Bauer claimed that bringing this physicality on the road raises the stakes for Stanford.
”It just motivates us even more to go into someone else’s territory and play great soccer,” Bauer said. “We elevate our game on these away trips.”
After facing Washington State, Stanford will take on Washington before coming back home for its final homestand of the year.
The game will take place on Thursday at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Yousef Hindy at yhindy ‘at’ stanford.edu.