Oct. 11, 2009
EUGENE, Ore. - Senior forward Kelley O'Hara recorded her first Stanford hat trick to lead the No. 1 Cardinal to a 5-1 victory over Oregon in a Pacific-10 Conference women's soccer match Sunday afternoon.
For a player who has 46 career goals - No. 5 on Stanford's all-time list - O'Hara's first hat trick was a surprise to her coach.
"I did not know that," Paul Ratcliffe said. "I'm very surprised. I assumed she had a few already."
O'Hara now has 15 goals, tying her for fifth on Stanford's single-season list, and establishing a personal collegiate high, following her 13-goal effort last season.
Stanford also got a goal and two assists from sophomore Lindsay Taylor, who has totaled two goals and five assists in the past three matches. Those nine points exceed the six she had in the team's previous 10 matches.
Stanford (2-0 in the Pac-10) extended its best-ever start to 13-0 heading into a pivotal homestand against No. 23 USC on Friday (7 p.m.) and defending conference champion and No. 3-ranked UCLA on Sunday (1 p.m.). Stanford suffered its only 2008 regular-season loss to fellow College Cup semifinalist UCLA in Westwood.
"It's always a crucial weekend when you play the Southern California schools," Ratcliffe said. "Those are two very tough opponents."
However, the Cardinal enters the phase of the season in good shape. Stanford has played only three of its 13 matches at home so far, but plays five of its final seven of the regular season at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium. In addition, Stanford has four ranked teams remaining on its schedule and all are at home.
"I still think we have a ways to go," Ratcliffe said. "But we're growing together, the team chemistry's great and we're getting sharper each game."
All O'Hara's goals were outstanding efforts, with two coming during a three-goal in six-minute first-half scoring barrage for a 3-0 lead.
In the 17th minute, she took a pass from Taylor behind the defense, kept her composure and slotted it in. Her second, in the 20th minute, came as she rose over a defender at the far post to head in a pinpoint 40-yard pass from Taylor.
O'Hara's third was the result of her own tenacity. She ran hard to beat a defender to the ball in the box and stayed with it after her initial shot was blocked by goalkeeper Cody Miles. O'Hara tapped in the rebound for a 4-1 lead in the 58th minute.
"That was a great goal," Ratcliffe said. "She was fantastic."
Taylor's goal came after she intercepted a goal kick, took the ball forward a few strides and unleashed a scorching shot from the top of the box. After being slowed for much of the early season because of a virus, Taylor continues to regain her fitness and her All-American form.
"She's gotten stronger and stronger each game as her fitness has improved," Ratcliffe said. "I expect her to continue to get better and better."
Stanford's final goal came from Christen Press, who curved a left-footed shot from 25-30 yards from the right of the penalty area in the 62nd minute. The shot baffled Miles, who did not appear to be ready for the looping trajectory.
It was the 12th goal of the season for Press, who entered the week tied with O'Hara for second in the nation in scoring, with 30 points.
The hat trick was the second of the season for a Stanford player, following Kristin Stannard's on Sept. 6 against Virginia Tech.
Stanford outside back Ali Riley took an elbow to the head early in the second half that caused a large bump on her head. She re-entered the game for a brief period, but then was removed. Ratcliffe said she could have remained in the game. "She's fine," Ratcliffe said.