Aug. 30, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 4 Stanford women's soccer team found itself in an unusual position, falling behind by two goals - something that hadn't happened since 2007.
But the Cardinal rallied for five goals in a 26-minute span of the second half to beat San Diego State, 5-2, in a nonconference match Sunday afternoon.
"They showed tremendous character," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "It also showed how potent this team is."
"We've never had to fight back like that," said Press, a junior.
Though unranked San Diego State (2-2) was outshot 35-4, the Aztecs scored each goal by winning one-on-one battles to create breakaway situations. When Jessica Gordon scored on a shot partially deflected by goalkeeper Kira Maker in the 52nd minute, San Diego State had a 2-0 lead.
"Right after the goal, we were a little chaotic," Press said. "But that chaos brought us energy, and once we settled down, that energy remained and allowed us to get back in the game."
Press ignited the Stanford scoring flurry with a straight-on header off a cross from freshman Courtney Verloo on the right.
The goal served to break open the Aztec defense. Noyola's follow of Mariah Nogueira's deflected shot made it 2-0. And O'Hara (five goals this year) scored the go-ahead goal by bringing the ball upfield and slotting a 20-yard shot inside the far post.
Six minutes, three goals, and a 3-2 lead.
"We just needed to break the ice," Ratcliffe said. "Once we got the first goal, I knew there'd be more. And when we got the second, momentum was really on our side, and then it broke wide open."
Press, who assisted on Noyola's second goal, in the 78th minute, registered her second five-point game of the season. She closed out the scoring with a right-footed shot off Allison McCann's pass in the 84th minute. The five goals was the most for Stanford in a half since taking a 5-0 against Pacific in the 2008 season opener.
The Cardinal nearly scored a sixth goal, but Noyola's late penalty kick was saved by San Diego State's Aubree Southwick, who made nine saves.
After three matches, Stanford is averaging four goals and 35 shots. The school single-game record for shots was 33 going into this season. But the defense remains a work in progress with none of the back four, including two freshmen, in the same spot as last season.
"They just need to read the game a bit better and improve their positioning," Ratcliffe said. "And they're young, so they're learning. They're doing all right."
Stanford's shots hit the frame three times in the first half, but the Cardinal has failed to score a first-half goal in two matches. The team's early performance will be a point of emphasis.
"In the past two games, we've come out a little flat," Press said. "We've sort of come out with the attitude that we know we're going to win. I think that's taken the edge off.
"Today, after they scored the two goals, there was more pressure on us. We started playing with more urgency and passion, and more of a realization that we had to score now.
"We're going to come away with the knowledge that we have to come out really sharp from the beginning."
For Ratcliffe, the lesson was this:
"You've got to keep your composure," he said. "Keep playing good soccer and realize that once you get one goal, then you've got to get the next goal. One goal at a time, and keep playing hard.
"And that's what they did."