Video interview and highlights below
STANFORD, Calif. – Taylor Uhl scored on a rebound of her own first-half shot to give Stanford a 1-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the first round of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament Friday night before 1,223 at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
The victory was Stanford’s 21st consecutive at home in the NCAA tournament, but the Cardinal (14-5-1) will have to travel from now on. The Cardinal travels to UCLA, which plays host to the second and third rounds.
On Friday, Stanford plays South Carolina, a 5-0 winner over Furman, and could face its Pac-12 rival UCLA on Sunday.
“The team had a strong performance,” Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “We played really good possession soccer. We moved the ball well. We created chances, but we need to do a better job of finishing our opportunities. Hopefully, this will give us momentum going forward.”
Uhl scored her team-leading 11th goal of the season when she received a cross from Courtney Verloo and headed it off the crossbar. However, Uhl collected the rebound and struck a right-footed shot across the goal-mouth and inside the left post, at 14:00.
Chioma Ubogagu later created a chance by slowing down and then making a hard cut to the right. After two dribbles, she unleashed a hard shot that was saved.
“Overall, the attacking chemistry tonight was really on point,” Uhl said. “That’s been something that’s been inconsistent for us.”
Uhl scored for the first time since her overtime winner in Stanford’s Pac-12 home-opening victory over Arizona on Oct. 4. Friday marked her first start in eight matches.
Uhl talked about her adjustment from University of Minnesota, where she led the nation in scoring last year, to Stanford.
“The West Coast is typically known for its possession oriented soccer, which is something I
wasn’t used to,” she said. “Playing in the Midwest, we’re a lot more direct and play more of a physical game. Out here, they play more of what is called the ‘beautiful game.’ That’s definitely been more of a transition, playing more with my back to goal, being expected to hold the ball a lot more than I was used to. It’s definitely something that I’m still trying improve on.”
Stanford had a 21-6 shooting advantage over the Titans (8-7-7), the Big West Conference tournament champions. However, Cal State Fullerton’s Erica Mazeau nearly tied the match in the second half with a hard low shot that was saved by the fingertips of Stanford goalkeeper Jane Campbell.
Stanford is making is 16th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and is seeking to reach its sixth consecutive College Cup. Friday’s victory marked the eighth consecutive season that Stanford has advanced past the first round.
Despite a fourth-place finish that followed four consecutive perfect Pac-12 seasons, Stanford remains optimistic for chances in the NCAA’s.
“I think we can go very far,” Ratcliffe said. “We could win a national championship. The key is, confidence levels have to be high and you have to work hard, keep your concentration, limit your mistakes, and we have to get hot down the line.
“We’ve got to go down there hungry, give our best effort and see what we can do.”