Top-seeded Stanford women’s soccer (18-1-1) moves on in its quest for a national championship after clinching a 4-0 victory over Houston Baptist (10-11-1) on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Friday’s matchup was the first time the two teams had ever competed against one another. Starting the first round of the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed and host was a huge advantage for the Cardinal.
“It is great to be the number one seed and play at home,” sophomore Michelle Xiao said, “but with that said, each team that plays us will come out and play their best game, so we need to match and exceed their intensity.”
On Friday night, Stanford outshot the Huskies 29-0 and scored three of its four goals within 20 minutes of game play.
Pac-12 Player of the Year Andi Sullivan was not on the field on Friday, as she was playing with the U.S. Women’s National Team in a friendly against Romania. Despite Sullivan’s absence, four of Stanford’s underclassmen players scored a goal apiece, proving the depth of the Cardinal’s roster.
“Anyone on our team who steps on the field is able to contribute,” Xiao said. “It’s great seeing how much everyone has grown this season, especially the younger players.”
Within the first three minutes of play, Stanford charged straight to goal and put up two shots that were both just short of the net.
Capitalizing on the very next offensive opportunity at the five-minute mark, sophomore Kyra Carusa put Stanford on the board with a crafty right-footed deflection off of an accurately placed cross from Xiao.
Carusa’s goal marked her fifth of the season, tying her goal total from last season. Carusa has been a crucial attacker for the Cardinal, recording at least one point in the last five matches and in 13 out of 19 games this season.
For the next 10 minutes of play, HBU goalkeeper Alanis Guevera contained the Cardinal’s dominant attack, blocking three consecutive shots on goal. However, Stanford did not let up – they continued to pepper the goal until finally, at the 15 minute mark, freshman Sam Tran scored Stanford’s second goal from a scramble in front of the net. This was Tran’s second collegiate goal, and she followed it up with a team-high six shots during the game.
Not long after Tran, Xiao dodged around the HBU defense, beating two defenders down the left side of the field and then firing in Stanford’s third goal.
It seemed as if the Huskies did not have time to catch their breath during the first half as Stanford managed to put up 12 shots and eight corner kicks.
Freshman Logan Karam improved the Cardinal’s score with her first collegiate goal in the 82nd minute of play. Karam’s chip shot came off of an assist by freshman Ceci Gee.
The Cardinal held HBU without a shot the entire game, something the team has not done since Sept. 7 2012, in a 4-0 win against UNC.
“We were patient in our attack and created a lot of good chances,” said Xiao about her team’s performance. “Our team goal moving forward is to treat each game we play as the biggest game of the season, and in doing so, win a national championship.”
The Cardinal remain the top seed in the tournament, and will host Santa Clara next week for the NCAA second-round game.
Contact Sydney Shaw at sshaw17 ‘at’ stanford.edu.