Sept. 11, 2009
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Kelley O'Hara scored two goals to rally the Stanford women's soccer team to a 2-1 victory over No. 7 Purdue at the Santa Clara Classic on Friday night.
Now, the No. 3 Cardinal can turn its attention to Notre Dame, the team that knocked it out of the NCAA College Cup with a 1-0 semifinal decision last year.
If Stanford wanted to enter the rematch with a crisp performance, it was mistaken after falling behind early during an uneven first half and then rallying behind O'Hara's seventh and eighth goals of the season.
"Kelley was fantastic," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "I thought she was one of the best players on the field, if not the best. She inspired the whole team. I give her a ton of credit."
Stanford (6-0) proved that even against a top-10 team, it can control the tempo, dominate possession and push forth with breakaway opportunities, all of which it did in the second half at Buck Shaw Stadium, culminating with O'Hara's winning penalty kick in the 73rd minute.
O'Hara found herself one on one with Purdue's Liz Secue after Stanford goalkeeper Kira Maker's long clearance was flicked forward by Lindsay Taylor. O'Hara was tripped as she slipped the ball past the defender, and converted the penalty on a low shot inside the left post.
"In the second half, we just kept the ball on the ground and played our style of soccer, which is possess, and move it up the field," O'Hara said. "We just need to bring that for 90 minutes, instead of 45."
The Cardinal found itself in a 1-0 hole right away. In the opening seconds alone, Maker tipped a half-field shot off the opening kickoff over the goal, watched a header bounce off the post and dived at an opponent's feet to prevent another open shot.
Purdue (5-1) kept up the pressure to draw a corner kick that was met by a header from the back post and across the goal mouth to Jessica Okoroafo, whose subsequent header gave the Boilermakers a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute.
Stanford regrouped by beginning to control the tempo. O'Hara forced a diving save from Purdue's Jenny Bradfisch on one sequence and made her next chance count, in the 17th minute, to tie the score, 1-1.
A long pass from the right forced Bradfisch out of the goal. The goalkeeper tipped the ball out of O'Hara's reach, but Christen Press collected the ball and touched it to O'Hara for the equalizer.
Stanford's superior quickness and speed began to pay dividends as the game wore on, but Purdue still controlled the air and therefore stifled many more potential opportunities by thwarting crossing passes. But Purdue was unable to mount any real scoring threats beyond the opening sequence.
Stanford next plays No. 5 Notre Dame (3-2), which suffered a stunning 2-0 loss to Santa Clara on Friday night. The match has weighed on the minds of Stanford players since the Dec. 5 loss in Cary, N.C.
"We played them in the final four and lost," O'Hara said. "That's definitely on our minds. Even though it was a long time ago, it seems like just yesterday. And I think we'll come in with the fire and intensity to get that game back."