No. 3 Stanford women’s soccer (12-0-1, 5-0-0 Pac-12) brought home all six points from their road trip, coming back against No. 25 Colorado (10-3-1, 2-2-1 Pac-12) and Utah (5-4-5, 1-2-2 Pac-12) to keep their outstanding undefeated season alive.
In their game against the Buffaloes on Thursday, the Cardinal went down early, conceding a grass-cutting shot from the Pac-12’s leading scorer Shyra James in the 11th minute. The rest of the first half was all Stanford, but they didn’t seem to be able to break through, amassing seven total shots and putting three on goal. All it took was a wondergoal from sophomore midfielder Jasmine Aikey, who unleashed a beautiful curler from outside the box to level the score in the 40th minute.
It was not long before they scored again, with freshman midfielder Joelle Jung firing in a shot from just inside the penalty area to put the Cardinal up just before the half. Fifth-year midfielder Maya Doms headed in a cross from freshman forward Erica Grilione to seal Stanford’s third come-from-behind win on the season.
“I think it’s really a testament to our character and our fight as a team, because not a lot of teams have that grit to come back after being down,” said redshirt sophomore forward Andrea Kitahata. “It takes winners to come back from that scoreline.”
Fresh off of their win, the team traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, for a midday game against the Utes. Kitahata broke through early in this one, slotting away a cross from freshman forward Maryn Wolf to give the Cardinal a lead they protected until the end.
“We’ve got a great defense,” Kitahata said. “So keeping those shutouts is huge for us, and often being able to put just one chance away is all we really need. So I’ll take a one to nothing win any day.”
This was Stanford’s seventh shutout of the season, showcasing one of their biggest strengths: defensive solidity. “I think we’re just so sound at any line, whether that be the defense, the midfield and the forward line,” said senior goalkeeper Ryan Campbell. “For me specifically, every game, I obviously go in with the mindset of wanting to get a shutout.”
The Cardinal has yet to let in more than one goal in any match, averaging less than half of a goal allowed per game.
But their dominance doesn’t stop with the defense: Stanford’s offense is a shot-creating juggernaut, outshooting their opponents in 11 out of 13 games and more than doubling their adversaries’ output on nine of those occasions.
“Creating those chances and putting those goals away is really what helps us to win these games,” Kitahata said.
With the team’s success, it’s easy to get complacent. However, Campbell stressed the importance of staying focused and always improving: “I think we’ve done a really good job of not being outcome driven. It’s easy to say, ‘Let’s just win this game.’ But we also always talk about playing a good game.”
This mentality has propelled the Cardinal to new heights this season. Improving after winning the Pac-12 championship is a tall order, but this year’s squad seems to have shored up its play away from home, with a tie at Georgetown (7-1-6, 3-0-3 Big East) the only blemish on their record.
“On the road, there are different challenges,” Campbell said. “This weekend, we had altitude, we had a number of things. But I think if you leave a game talking about what tricks the team played, or what the weather presented, I think you’re already losing because it’s about the team and the unit.”
“Our goals this season haven’t changed,” Kitahata said. “We want to win a national championship and we want to win the Pac-12.”
Ranked third in the nation and unbeaten through 13 games, Stanford’s women’s soccer team is on the path to the championship.
The Cardinal will continue its in-conference play with a three-game home stand, starting with Washington (6-5-2, 1-4 Pac-12) on Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. PT.