With one game remaining in a Pac-12 race that Stanford has already locked up, head coach Paul Ratcliffe will have one more segment of film to motivate his team. For the first time since Sept. 28, spanning 832 minutes of game play, Stanford conceded a goal. Two, actually.
“We conceded a couple goals,” Ratcliffe said. “I wasn’t happy about that. So defensively we have to get a little bit stronger and learn from them. And communication, we just need to clean things up a little bit.”
Nevertheless, No. 2 Stanford (16-1, 9-0 Pac-12) dominated Arizona (10-5-1, 4-4-1 Pac-12) in a high-scoring 6-2 affair on Sunday. The Cardinal claimed its fifth consecutive Pac-12 title Thursday in a win over Arizona State and are now competing for seeding in the NCAA tournament.
“Always an honor to win the conference, never easy to win the Pac-12,” Ratcliffe said. “Hopefully we can use this momentum to continue to build because our ultimate goal is to win the College Cup.”
“We’re happy we got the win, and that we kept our undefeated streak in Pac-12,” said sophomore center back Naomi Girma. “We’re not happy with the goals so we just want to keep getting better for the next game and for the playoffs.”
In the 35th minute, Arizona’s Jada Talley sent a lofted ball into a pocket behind the Stanford defense, and fellow forward Jill Aguilera was there to capitalize, chipping redshirt freshman goalkeeper Katie Meyer. Talley, who leads her team in both goals (9) and assists (8), took advantage of rare confusion on the backline to cut the deficit in half, 2-1.
Early in the second half, the Wildcats broke on a counter attack. A loose ball in the box was rocketed towards goal by Aguilera, who brought her season total to eight goals with the brace, her third of the year. Meyer had only allowed one goal on the season coming into the game, but the game was already out of reach 5-2 at this point.
During the stretch of goalless play, Stanford captains Girma and senior Sam Hiatt were awarded Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week. The run stretched from a 3-2 win over then-No. 3 USC through the entire month of October.
“I don’t think it’s something that we really think about as we play,” Girma said. “We’re just working to get a shout out every game and not really like focusing on keeping a record or anything like that.”
Stanford also had plenty of goals to celebrate Sunday, and did not wait long. In the sixth minute, freshman midfielder Maya Doms fed junior midfielder Catarina Macario, who ate. The Wildcats were unable to clear their lines, and Doms saw the ball through to Macario, who was left alone with the keeper. The nation’s leading goal scorer had no problem from there.
“I was happy to see we scored so many goals,” Ratcliffe said. “Overall really good performance by the team.”
Arizona continued to put pressure on Stanford, and recorded the first six corner kicks of the match, all before the 20th minute.
The Cardinal, however, were able to score on a set piece first. Macario daringly sent a free kick directly over the wall, and Arizona’s keeper Hope Hisey spilled the shot. Girma beat everyone to the ball and picked up her second goal of the season.
Less than a minute after checking in to the match, redshirt junior forward Sam Tran played a ball across the face of the net to Macario, whose one-touch finish was buried in the back of the net before Hisey could react. The play started in the defense with junior right back Kiki Pickett, who used all of the space the Wildcats would allow her before playing Tran on the wing.
Doms appeared to have scored her own in the 41st minute, but it was officially ruled an own goal. Sophomore midfielder Abby Greubel sent in a corner kick, and Arizona was unable to clear its lines. The ball fell to the feet of Doms at the top of the box, and her shot hit off the left post, bounced off Hisey, and went in.
Three minutes later, Greubel was brought down in the area, and took her own penalty kick. The keeper leaned left, Greubel went right, and Stanford brought its first half tally to five.
Stanford took 15 of the 20 first half shots, and Hisey made three saves, but she was replaced by Kendyll Humphreys for the second 45 minutes. Humphreys faced 16 shots, making an identical three saves. Arizona totaled just eight shots for the contest, but matched Stanford’s seven corners.
Stanford’s lone goal of the second period came in the 63rd minute for a quick answer to the Wildcats. Macario’s corner kick missed everyone, spilling out of the box to Sophia Smith. The sophomore beat three defenders on the dribble, then curled the ball around Humphreys for a spectacular finish. With the assist, Macario is at 16 for the season, tying her own previous record shared with Christen Press ’11.
Macario’s 10th game of the season with at least one goal and one assist moves her one behind the program record for career assists (41) set by Press. She also moves into third for career points behind Press and Sarah Rafanelli ’93, and into fourth for career goals looking up at Press, Rafanelli and Kelley O’Hara ’10. Her 23 goals this season is bested only by a record 26 shared between O’Hara and Press.
Stanford concludes its regular season Friday with a Big Clasico matchup with Cal (13-3-1, 5-2-3 Pac-12) in Cagan Stadium.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.