The No. 3 Stanford women’s soccer team (17-2-1, 10-0-1 Pac-12) is set to take on Brigham Young University (16-2-2, 7-1-1 FBS Independent Schools) at Cagan Stadium this Thursday in the second round of the NCAA playoffs.
Both BYU and Stanford beat their first round opponents in regular time — the Cougars in a 1-0 victory against Utah Valley, while Stanford handily beat San Jose State 2-0 — and both clinched their wins within the first half of the game. It will truly be a fight as Stanford, ranked third nationally, plays a team ranked 19th, one of its toughest opponents yet.
Stanford’s defense, which has proven to be one of the team’s strongest assets, will have to stop a very capable and aggressive BYU offense. The unit averages 1.6 goals per game, and the Cougars have taken an astounding total of 436 shots, outdoing the Cardinal’s 386 shots for the season so far.
However, the Cardinal defense is known for allowing very few goal opportunities and even fewer shots to pass through. In fact, the Cardinal has only allowed 129 shot attempts throughout the entirety of their 20-game season.
The Cougars’ main attacking players will be juniors Ashley Hatch and Elena Medeiros, along with sophomore star Nadia Gomes, who leads the team with 9 goals.
The Cardinal will face a team that they have already played earlier in the season, as then-No. 9 BYU visited Stanford on Sep. 7. Stanford was able to pull out a 1-0 victory against the Cougars with a goal by sophomore Kyra Carusa.
This time around, the Stanford team will look to have more goal-scoring opportunities, something it had trouble doing during its first matchup against BYU. Once past the strong BYU defenders, the Cardinal will also have to deal with one of the best goalie tandems in the nation: Rachel Boaz, who has a 92.6 percent save percentage and her teammate Hannah Clark, with an 83.3 percent save percentage. Between the two of them, BYU has the second-best save percentage amongst Division I teams.
“I am super pumped,” junior forward Ryan Walker-Hartshorn said. “I think our team culture and chemistry and just overall attitude about the playoffs is awesome. We have this culture of the little team that could. We’re going to do it this year.”
The match will be played on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. at Cagan Stadium.
Contact Laura Sussman at laura111 ‘at’ stanford.edu.