Feb. 26, 2010
Stanford, Calif. - After a stormy afternoon in the Bay Area, Mother Nature actually cooperated as No. 15 Stanford fell just short in a hard fought game to No. 1 Northwestern, 18-11. The game was moved to Varsity Turf after heavy rains made the grass at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium unplayable. However, just before the game began the skies cleared and the two teams played under sunlight.
The Wildcats came to town as heavy favorites, winners of the last five national titles. However, the Cardinal accepted the challenge and gave the top-ranked team in the country all they could handle.
"I thought our team played tough," said head coach Amy Bokker. "Northwestern is a great team and I was glad that we were able to compete at that level.
Northwestern took an early 1-0 lead, but the Cardinal immediately responded with a Lauren Schmidt free position goal, making it 1-1. Schmidt was among the Cardinal setting the tone with aggressive play, corralling a pair ground balls and two draw controls.
Overall, the Cardinal did an excellent job with the draw controls, just being edged by the Wildcats, 17-14. Leigh Lucas led Stanford with three draw controls.
"I was really happy with our effort on draw controls, which is something we really worked on this week," said Bokker. "We were almost 50/50 against one of the best draw control teams in the country."
Northwestern built a 4-1 lead, but Stanford again bounced back on unassisted goals by Catherine Swanson and Dana Lindsay. From there the scoring went back and forth with Northwestern taking a 9-6 lead into the half. Julie Christy added a free position goal, Karen Nesbitt scored unassisted and Sarah Flynn capitalized on a pass from Leslie Foard to round out the first-half Cardinal scoring.
After Northwestern scored an early second-half goal, the Cardinal began to make things very interesting. Just two minutes into the second half, Christy found the back of the net on a great feed from Claire Hubbard. Then, just seconds later Christy scored again, this time on a pass from Schmidt. Christy had a hat trick and the Cardinal was back within two, 10-8.
Stanford did not step off the gas as they continued with an offensive flurry. Still just over three minutes into the half, Swanson added her second goal with another unassisted tally. Then Christy found Flynn just 22 seconds later and the Cardinal had evened the game at 10-10, just 3:31 into the second half.
Stanford's run of scoring was enabled by winning draw controls to secure possession.
From there, Northwestern seemed to settle down and show why they have won 30 consecutive games. The Wildcats outscored Stanford 8-1 the rest of the way, leaving the Cardinal to ponder how they managed to get back into the game, but then let it get away.
"I thought our offense was collective and worked well together," said Bokker. "We created good scoring opportunities."
Stanford is back at home on Sunday to face No. 19 Ohio State. The game is scheduled back at Cagan Stadium at 1:00 p.m. Stay tuned to gostanford.com for any updates on a venue change due to the inclement weather.