Stanford women’s soccer (17-2-1, 10-0-1 Pac-12) began its NCAA tournament with a definitive win against the San Jose State Spartans (10-8-4, 8-3-0 Mountain West).
The Cardinal dominated the game from the start, controlling the ball using strategic passes and clear communication. They passed the ball effectively down the field, creating several opportunities for senior Laura Liedle and others to cross the ball to teammates in front of the goal.
These early penetrating passes and shot attempts finally paid off in the 17th minute. A shot by sophomore Kyra Carusa was knocked out by the Spartan goalkeeper and then accidentally booted in by a Spartan defender in a frantic attempt to clear the ball and prevent the seemingly inevitable Cardinal goal. Although labeled as an own goal, the play was brought about by the constant pressure of the Cardinal attack.
“It was a great buildup play to create that opportunity,” head coach Paul Ratcliffe remarked. “I thought the goalkeeper made a good save and it looked like it was right on the line and then it went over. Relief that we broke the ice and got the goal.”
Determined to ensure their spot in the next round of the playoffs, the Cardinal did not stop after the first goal. Instead, the team continued to create scoring opportunities for itself by finding space and executing quick, accurate passes. Then, in the 44th minute, a low cross by junior Ryan Walker-Hartshorn was skillfully placed into the back of the net by freshman Averie Collins.
“Averie and I always try to get really rowdy on goal celebrations, especially when it’s us two. So it was a really awesome combo, and she placed it perfectly,” Walker-Hartshorn stated, laughing.
By the end of the first period, Stanford had taken 8 shots to San Jose State’s 1. The Spartans emerged pressuring hard at the beginning of the second half, with their aggressive play eventually causing Spartan sophomore Myia Wilkes to earn a yellow card in the 49th minute.
Despite a few crafty plays by the Spartans, Stanford’s energy and control continued throughout the second half, as the team tallied 8 more shots. Meanwhile, SJSU managed just 2 in the period, a testament to the strong defensive play of the Cardinal.
“It was great being able to move the ball up to half-field, and then finding a pass, and just kind of keeping the rhythm going on the play instead of killing the momentum,”said junior defender Maddie Bauer.
Both teams continued to fight until the last minute, but Stanford was able to clinch the 2-0 victory.
Stanford next faces BYU, as the Cougars punched their ticket to the Round of 32 with a 1-0 victory over Utah Valley. The game will take place at Cagan Stadium this Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
Contact Laura Sussman at laura111 ‘at’ stanford.edu.