On the first day of November, the fourth-ranked Stanford women’s soccer team (16-2, 10-0 Pac-12) claimed its 10th Pac-12 championship — its first since 2012 — at home with a dominating 2-0 victory against the UCLA Bruins (8-9-1, 4-5-1).
In the penultimate game of the regular season, the Cardinal demonstrated the play that has made them successful all year. Putting the high pressure on early, Stanford made sure to establish dominance and control from the beginning, gaining an 8-1 advantage in both shots and corners earned in the first half.
Despite the Cardinal’s plethora of opportunities, the first goal remained elusive, as the offense saw multiple shots fly over the crossbar. The first breakthrough in scoring didn’t occur for the Cardinal until the 62nd minute, when sophomore forward Kyra Carusa capitalized on a UCLA defensive error to slot home a curled shot past UCLA goalkeeper Siri Ervik.
Carusa’s goal motivated the Bruins, which brought on attacking replacements in an all-out effort to overrun the Cardinal defense and score the equalizer. Nonetheless, the Cardinal remained collected, scoring the game-clincher off the head of Stanford junior forward Megan Turner in the 84th minute.
Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe commended UCLA’s persistence, especially in the latter parts of the second half.
“UCLA has some tremendous strikers, and they put us under pressure,” Ratcliffe said. “I thought the [Stanford] defense did very, very well to limit them to only a few looks in front of goal.”
The UCLA offense relied heavily on the fast-paced counterattacks that worked better and better as the game progressed. However, Stanford continually remained in control of whatever was in front of it, behind stellar performances from freshman defender Alana Cook and junior defender Maddie Bauer.
“I think it starts with our forwards,” said Bauer about the keys to the team’s defensive success. “[It’s] all about organization and communication; everyone is marked on their player, and we have one covering player.”
The defense has been a crucial component of the Cardinal’s 10-game unbeaten streak through conference play, as the team has shut out opposing offenses in six of its 10 wins.
“It’s about being smart,” Bauer said. “Especially when we are playing a UCLA, USC or Cal, I think we’ve been really good with time management.”
“The strength of this team is that we are a team,” she added. “You look at the games we’ve won; there are different players who have stepped up every game it seems like, and that’s the quality of this group.”
Stanford will finish its regular season at home against No. 20 Cal on Friday at 6 p.m. The game will be aired on Pac-12 Networks Bay Area.
Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu.