Nov. 1, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - Senior forward Kelley O'Hara broke Stanford's single-season points record while helping the No. 1 Cardinal clinch a share of the Pacific-10 Conference women's soccer title with a 4-0 victory over Arizona on Sunday.
O'Hara scored from the top of the box in the 33rd minute to tie Sarah Rafanelli's 1993 goal-scoring record of 20, and tallied her 49th point of the season on an assist to Christen Press in the 58th minute to break Rafanelli's points mark.
Stanford (19-0, 8-0), which also got goals from Mariah Nogueira and Teresa Noyola, captured its first conference title since 2002 and sixth overall. The Cardinal clinched the Pac-10's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament and can win the conference title outright with at least a draw in the regular-season finale against visiting California on Sunday (1 p.m.), or a UCLA draw or loss in the Bruins' final two matches.
"It's a good feeling to win the Pac-10 title, but our main goal is the national title," said Paul Ratcliffe, who earned his first conference championship in 12 years as a collegiate head coach, including seven at Stanford. "It's a good accomplishment, we're happy about it, but we've still got to keep going."
O'Hara gave Stanford a 2-0 lead when central defender Alicia Jenkins played a long ball that O'Hara met in stride with a first-touch strike.
On her assist, O'Hara held possession patiently until finding Press as she broke through the defense for a breakaway, beating onrushing goalkeeper Ashley Jett for a 3-0 lead.
O'Hara said she wasn't aware of the record until public-address announcer Emil Dizon told the crowd.
"It's nice," O'Hara said. "I'm a forward, so my job is to score goals. It's nice to feel like I've been doing that for the program. But, honestly, right now, it's not so much about the personal records. We're 19-0, we're sharing the Pac-10 title and could win it outright, and we're going into the postseason. That's what I'm most excited for right now."
Press also is on the verge of a record-setting season. She now has 16 goals and 45 points, figures that place her third in each category on Stanford's single-season lists. She also assisted on Mariah Nogueira's 26th-minute goal that opened the scoring, sending in a corner kick that the freshman met with a lunging header.
For Press, her 13th assist puts her in a tie for second, only one away from Marcie Ward's 2000 season record.
Reserve forward Kristin Stannard set up the final goal against Arizona (4-13-1, 1-6) by feinting a defender to free herself to the end line and finding Noyola for a far-post header to wrap up another record, the longest unbeaten streak in Stanford history (19).
Ratcliffe played fifth-year senior midfielder Hillary Heath for the entire match in her second consecutive start. Heath, who has repeatedly given Stanford a spark off the bench, was being stretched to improve her fitness for a full 90 minutes.
Ratcliffe said he liked what he saw.
"She brings pressure physically, she moves the ball, keeps possession for us and has a great brain for the game," Ratcliffe said. "She's been one that I've always loved in there. Now, she's back and playing real sharp and fit. I thought she was one of our best players all weekend. She knows our system and she's worked hard all five years."