Nov. 20, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - Paul Ratcliffe looked like a genius.
Four minutes after the Stanford coach moved Camille Levin from outside back to the midfield, the senior scored a superb goal to break a scoreless stalemate and spark Stanford to a 2-0 victory over Boston College in a soggy NCAA third-round match Sunday at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
The goal, scored in the 63rd minute was followed only seven minutes later by another, a perfectly-placed free kick by Lindsay Taylor that essentially clinched a quarterfinal berth for the top-seeded Cardinal.
Stanford (22-0-1) will play host to Oklahoma State (22-1-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. The Cowgirls advanced by beating Maryland, the only team to take a point from Stanford this season, by a 1-0 score.
Tickets for Friday's match can be purchased online tonight (Sunday) at 6 p.m. PT through gostanford.com. On Monday, tickets can be purchased by phone at 1-800-STANFORD or at the Stanford Stadium ticket office (at Gate 2), beginning at 9 a.m.
The ticket office will be closed on Thursday and Friday, so no phone orders or in-person purchases can be made on those days until the Cagan Stadium ticket office opens at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.
With 20-time NCAA champ North Carolina and 2010 semifinalists Ohio State and Boston College eliminated Sunday, Stanford is the only team to have reached the College Cup (final four) since 2008 to still be alive.
However, in Stanford’s 16-team bracket, the seeding has fallen perfectly into place, with No. 1 Stanford dispatching the No. 4 Eagles and facing the No. 2 Cowgirls. The other No. 1 seeds – Duke, Wake Forest, and Florida State – also remain on course.
“Every game at this point is a big game,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of players who have been to the College Cup (three consecutive years). There are obviously nerves coming into every single game, because every game has a lot of importance. But we have a lot of experience as to what to do with those nerves and how to deal with them.”
Stanford at times looked flustered in the first half and Boston College (12-6-3) seemed to grow in confidence as the match remained scoreless.
“Coming into the second half, I thought we could have had them,” junior forward Victoria DiMartino said.
Until that time, Levin was having trouble moving into the attack at her outside right back position, which Boston College coach Alison Foley attributed to DiMartino’s attention.
But in the 59th minute, Ratcliffe made a double move. He removed Kristy Zurmuhlen, hampered by an injury suffered Friday, out of midfield, and replaced her with Levin. He also moved Rachel Quon from left to right outside back and brought in Annie Case to defend on the left side.
“It was a tactical adjustment,” Ratcliffe said. “I thought we could penetrate up the middle. She’s such a great player. So, when she went up there, the adjustment paid off straight away.”
The move was designed to give Levin more room and to allow her to focus on the attack.
Boston College responded by immediately attacking toward Case, but she held her ground and the Eagles were stymied. Meanwhile, Levin began creating problems of a different sort in the middle of the B.C. defense.
Overlapping with Taylor, Levin slid the ball over to Teresa Noyola, who fed it back to Levin in space just above the penalty area. Showing great composure despite taking her first shot since the first round last week, Levin chipped the ball over goalkeeper Jillian Mastroianni and into the upper right corner.
“I was just trying to get a good shot off,” she said.
Levin also played a role in the second goal, making another run that forced B.C. to foul her, about 25 yards from the goal and a little to the right.
Taylor saw room around the right side of the Boston College wall and noticed Mastroianni was cheating to the side. So, Taylor struck low with her right foot, around the wall, and just inside the near (right) post, in the 70th minute as Mastroianni nearly collided with the post in her effort to stop the shot.
The goal was Taylor’s 19th of the season, the fifth-highest season total in school history, and the assist was Noyola’s 13th, a personal high that ties her for third on Stanford’s all-time single-season list.
Stanford advanced to the quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive season and has eliminated Boston College (12-6-3) the past three years, including at the 2010 College Cup in Cary, N.C., when Levin broke a 0-0 deadlock in a similar situation, by moving to the midfield (from forward) in a mid-match adjustment. And, just as in that one, Taylor provided the clinching goal in a 2-0 victory.
“It doesn’t matter what round you play Stanford, or any other great team,” DiMartino said. “In order to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
On Sunday, the Cardinal also extended its home winning streak to 49 – the second-longest in NCAA history – and its home unbeaten streak to 53. The seniors -- Levin, Taylor, Noyola, and Zurmuhlen -- have never lost a home match.
Stanford also recorded its fifth consecutive shutout, extending its scoreless streak to 536:08, and 16th shutout of the season. Goalkeeper Emily Oliver has allowed only four goals in 1,668 minutes and has a national-leading goals-against average of 0.22.
“I thought it was a tremendous performance,” Ratcliffe said. “The seniors stepped up and made it a special day.”
And made the coach look good, too.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics