Oct. 1, 2009
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - There are times while watching the Stanford women's soccer team that it becomes clear you are witnessing something special. That was certainly the case Thursday night when the Cardinal stunned local rival Santa Clara, 6-2, in a matchup of ranked teams.
Stanford, ranked No. 2 in the NSCAA coaches' poll and No. 1 in three other rankings, got two goals apiece from Kelley O'Hara and Christen Press to overcome an early deficit against the No. 11 Broncos at Buck Shaw Stadium.
With the victory, Stanford (11-0-0) matched its 1991 team for the school's best-ever start, and has beaten perennial power Santa Clara by a combined 11-2 over the past two years. In their seven previous meetings, Stanford had scored only one goal.
"We definitely respect them," senior defender Alicia Jenkins said. "They're always really talented technically. But I think we gained a lot of confidence from last year's game (a 5-0 Stanford victory) and that carried over.
"Even though we were down a goal, no one panicked because of last year's result and having that confidence."
Santa Clara (8-4-0) took the lead on a Jordan Angeli's glancing header in the 16th minute off Kiki Bosio's flip throw-in across the goal mouth, ending a scoreless streak of 462 minutes, 28 seconds for the Stanford defense.
But by halftime, Stanford had already made up the deficit, and even taken the lead. O'Hara's half-volley on a pass from Press over the top in the 25th minute tied the match, and Press scored the go-ahead goal shortly after. Mariah Nogueira sent an attempted clearance and over the middle to the junior forward, who used one touch to control and a second to score with the outside of her right foot.
Stanford's next three were remarkably similar, great plays to get free followed by perfect centering passes that required only a single touch. Two of those balls were provided by Lindsay Taylor, who picked up her third and fourth assists.
On Stanford's third goal, Taylor faked a cut to the right and instead cut left to the end line. Her now unobstructed pass found Teresa Noyola in the 53rd minute.
"She was leaning one way, and I felt I could just step over it," Taylor said. "I saw three people open at the back post. It was just like opening the floodgates as soon as I turned that corner."
Her service to O'Hara barely two minutes later ended a flurry of five Stanford goals in 38 minutes bridging the first and second halves.
For Taylor, a 2008 first-team All-American, her performance was another encouraging sign that she is regaining her form after a virus limited her during training camp and slowed her in the early season.
"Every day that I'm getting in practice, I feel like I'm getting better during the games," she said. "Every day my fitness is getting back up."
Santa Clara brought a goal back on an 80th minute penalty kick by Meleana Shim after a teammate was fouled by Alina Garciamendez in the penalty area, but the Cardinal soon got an emotional boost when freshman Marjani Hing-Glover scored her first collegiate goal, on a deflected shot in the 87th minute.
Stanford welcomed the return of right outside back Rachel Quon, who was away from the team for nine days and two matches because of a family matter.
Quon had started the first eight matches before leaving, and Camille Levin performed well as a replacement. But Levin was forced to miss the Santa Clara match because of a one-match suspension for the red card she received Sunday against Saint Mary's.
Quon provided welcome relief at a spot that coach Paul Ratcliffe was unsure about heading into the match. Quon played like her old self, making overlapping runs to kickstart the attack, and using her quickness to defend any potential threats.
Despite giving up the first goal, Stanford's early effort was much greater than it was in the 1-0 victory at Saint Mary's.
"Last week's game was frustrating, but we learned a lot from it," Jenkins said. "We wanted to show our game in the first five minutes, instead of the second 45."
O'Hara and Press became the only teammates in the nation to have 10 or more goals, according to research by collegesoccer360.com. In fact, no other team has two players with more than seven. O'Hara (12 goals, 6 assists, 30 points) and Press (10 goals, 10 assists, 30 points) were tied for second in the nation in scoring coming into the week and added five more points to their totals, including an assist apiece.
O'Hara caught and passed Marcie Ward (2000-04) for fifth on Stanford's all-time goals list, with 43. Press caught Jennifer Rowland (1987-90) and is tied for seventh on the same list, with 34.
Also, Press moved into a tie for 10th on Stanford's single-season assists list and is only four shy of the school record of 14, set by Ward in 2000.