Nov. 14, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. - Goals by Marjani Hing-Glover and Alina Garciamendez were enough to allow No. 1 Stanford to withstand a late Santa Clara rally in a 2-1 NCAA second-round women's soccer playoff on Sunday.
Now, the top-ranked Cardinal (20-0-2) must take on another longstanding rival, UCLA, in the round of 16. The site and time will be announced Sunday night.
The theme for Stanford through the first two playoff rounds has been youth. The Cardinal has scored five goals, from different players, all freshmen or sophomores. Not only that, but those players have combined for nine goals, meaning none have been regular goal-scorers. And two, including Garciamendez, scored their first collegiate goals.
Meanwhile, the big scorers - Christen Press, Teresa Noyola, Lindsay Taylor, and overlapping outside back Rachel Quon - have attracted much of the defensive attention, and their teammates have taken advantage.
"In games like this, it just opens things up," Press said. "We had so many people open making runs. It's a testament to our team. You can't just mark a couple of players."
The opening goal, especially, proved that. Left outside back Annie Case was deemed the player least in need of marking by Santa Clara and the redshirt freshman exploited that lack of attention by lifting a perfect cross to Hing-Glover in the 19th minute.
Hing-Glover, starting because of an injury to a teammate, met the pass with a left-footed full volley and into the goal for her third goal of the season. Her teammates call Hing-Glover's shot the "Johnny Rocket" because of its power, and this shot proved them right.
"She's a great player and it's about time everyone realized it," Press said. "That goal is exactly what I expected from her."
An injury to central defender Courtney Verloo, suffered prior to Friday's first-round victory over Sacramento State, has caused a ripple through the lineup and allowed Hing-Glover to make her fourth and fifth starts of the year.
Camille Levin played midfield last year, began the season at outside back, and has played more recently at forward. This time, she took Verloo's spot at a position she has never played at Stanford.
"They are so dynamic," Santa Clara coach Jerry Smith said. "There off-the-ball movement is so good. It's really hard to keep track of their players. We had about as good of a gameplan as we could have had and we still lost players. Just when you think, `Let's eliminate Press' -- and she didn't score today - someone else is going to step up. They have so many weapons."
Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said Verloo could have played if needed, but the coaches preferred to sit her out. Meanwhile, Levin provided a strong performance in Verloo's stead.
"Cami has been playing great for us," Ratcliffe said. "Wherever we have a need, she can fill in. I thought she was fantastic in the back."
The lead grew to 2-0 on a header by Garciamendez in the 49th minute, off a corner kick by Lindsay Taylor. The corner sailed to the back post where Garciamendez lunged to connect, and watched it strike net inside the left post.
"What are you going to do, honestly?" Santa Clara goalkeeper Bianca Henninger said. "Our defenders were as tight as can be without fouling. Credit to them, they were great finishes."
Stanford appeared to make it 3-0 when Press sent a chip over the head of Henninger and inside the back post. The goal, however, was nullified by an offside call on Noyola, for "interfering with another player (Henninger)," said referee Kari Seitz.
The call was disputed by Stanford, especially after coaches watched video after the match. However, Stanford was unable to put Santa Clara (13-7-3) away, and the Broncos lingered long enough to pop in a goal of its own.
Kendra Perry took a pass from Ellie Rice at the top of the penalty area, turned and shot a low-footed shot into the net in the 74th minute. Besides cutting the deficit, the goal also ended the Stanford defense's scoreless streak at 613 minutes, 42 seconds. The Cardinal hadn't allowed a goal since Oct. 17 and had strung six consecutive shutouts together.
"I think everyone is disappointed we let in a goal," Ratcliffe said. "Everyone is a little bit down. But it was a good goal. It wasn't a breakdown for us."
Stanford outshot Santa Clara, 21-6, and forced eight saves from Henninger, while also hitting the post and crossbar. But a one-goal margin caused some anxiety among the crowd of 1,690 at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
In the end, the Cardinal earned its fifth consecutive victory over Santa Clara, the school Stanford's played more than any other in its history. Santa Clara, however, still holds a 5-3 edge in NCAA Tournament meetings, and an 18-12-5 lead in the all-time series.
Next is UCLA (13-7-2) in another rematch. The Cardinal won there, 2-0, on Oct. 10 on the way to a second consecutive Pacific-10 Conference title. They also played a memorable NCAA College Cup semifinal last season in the chill of College Station, Texas, with Press scoring a golden goal in a 2-1 Stanford victory.
Stanford advances to the round of 16 for fifth consecutive season, and is two victories away from its third consecutive College Cup appearance.