In a hard-fought showdown, No. 12 Stanford women’s soccer (4-0-0, 0-0-0 Pac-12) pulled off an upset to remain perfect on the season, besting No. 8 Penn State (3-1-1, 0-0-0 Big Ten) by a score of 2-0.
From the get-go, both teams struggled to find their footing, sacrificing form and accuracy. Although the players lacked a certain rhythm, the energy was high. Within the first five minutes, the Cardinal’s energy was evident as senior midfielder Maya Doms took a striking shot with a skillful bicycle kick. In a show-stopping save, Nittany Lion goalkeeper Katherine Asman trapped the ball against the ground, bordering the line with a last-minute block.
As the tempo continued to increase, the match became physical. Using her pace, Stanford’s own junior forward Samantha Williams attempted to escape traffic in a dangerous breakaway opportunity in the 15th minute. In an attempt to thwart Williams, Nittany Lions’ midfielder Maddie Myers earned herself a yellow card and awarded the Cardinal with a free kick, which they were unable to capitalize on.
Only after the first round of substitutions did Stanford seem to settle into a comfortable flow. With fresh legs from freshman players, like midfielder Jasmine Aikey and forward Allie Montoya, Stanford appeared more confident, connecting passes and maintaining composure up top. Notably, the top three recruits of the Class of 2022 shared the field at this point in the game. While the Nittany Lions relied upon freshman forward and No. 2 recruit Amelia White, the Cardinal held strong with No. 1 recruit in freshman defender Elise Evans and No. 3 recruit Montoya up top.
However, it was not until the 38th minute that Montoya fully made her mark. Aikey, another top-10 recruit from the class of 2022, maintained calmness in the box and cleanly passed to Montoya, who was able to slide the ball into the lower left corner for a skillful finish.
While this may have been the first goal of her Cardinal career, the notable “impact player” continued her hot streak. In a fortuitous deflection in the box, the standout freshman found herself with an open look at the goal. Not hesitating, Montoya landed a shot and extended the Cardinal lead to 2-0 in the 56th minute.
The Nittany Lions, however, were not quick to crumble as they began to gain momentum following Stanford’s second score. In a striking breakaway by Nittany Lion forward Ellie Wheeler, Penn State’s offense began to connect and the Cardinal’s junior goalkeeper Ryan Campbell was needed more than ever. Campbell read the play and, coming off her line, absorbed a breakaway shot enough to slow the ball and allow for clearance by senior defender Paige Rubinstein.
Campbell undoubtedly proved herself in this match, backing her strong read on the game and skillful decisions with stellar saves that led to yet another shutout this season.
In the end, Stanford maintained their 2-0 lead, extending their win streak to four and topping one of their toughest competitors this season.
The Cardinal face their next test in Cal Poly (2-2, 0-0-0 Big Sky) on Sunday, Sept. 4. At home in Cagan Stadium, Stanford will return to action with a kick-off scheduled for 3 p.m.