STANFORD, Calif. – The darkness has long settled into Stanford’s late-afternoon practice sessions when the Cardinal begin to really work.
In trying to simulate the final minutes of a close game, coach Amy Bokker puts her players through repeated ball-posessions drills on weary legs. The goal was specifically what Stanford did on Saturday in its season-opening 11-9 victory over visiting Ohio State – running opponents into submission.
Stanford controlled the ball for 6:46 of the final 7:27 to keep the Buckeyes from threatening.
“Those things are really hard to simulate in practice and we do it over and over and over again to make it real,” Bokker said. “I was really proud of our team’s effort down the stretch to show that we can have that confidence and poise and control.
“We definitely take a lot of pride in our fitness. It’s moments like those that you really appreciate and see it pay off.”
Rachel Ozer scored four goals to lead the No. 14 Cardinal at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium. Stanford (1-0) rallied from a 5-3 first-half deficit to take a 10-7 lead on Hannah Farr’s goal with 11:20 left. Ohio State (2-1) twice cut the deficit to two, including on Kaila Gottlick’s free-position shot with 2:44 left, but Ohio State would not possess the ball again.
During one stretch, Farr outscrambled the defense for over a minute, before finally seeing an open lane and bolting in for the score to give Stanford an 11-8 lead with 3:25 left.
After Gottlick’s goal, Stanford’s Alexandra Crerend took the draw and won possession, seemingly ensuring the victory. Fine passing, especially by Julia Burns, limited the Ohio State pressure and kept the Cardinal in control until the game ended.
“We talked about it in the timeout with about five minutes left,” Stanford coach Amy Bokker said. “We thought they were going to start pressuring out to get the ball back. We wanted to give our players the opportunity to score, but with a high percentage shot.”
Farr, who doubles as midfielder on the Stanford soccer team, is always among the best athletes on any field. But her ability to keep possession and escape being hounded by Buckeye defenders, was also an indication to the emphasis that Stanford coaches put on late-game possessions.
Crerend, a sophomore transfer from Brown, made her mark in her first game for the Cardinal. She was a late add to the draw and made the play that kept Ohio State at arm’s reach.
“That last draw was crucial,” Bokker said.
Ozer, Stanford’s top scorer last year with 48, got off to a strong start. Bokker admired not only Ozer’s scoring ability, but also the more subtle parts of Ozer’s game.
“I don’t think everyone realizes the little things she does in addition to scoring goals -- working off ball, attracting attention, riding hard to get the ball back,” Bokker said. “Those are things she does really well for us.”
Besides Ozer, and Farr (two goals), Stanford had five players with one goal apiece. Crerend’s only goal that counted (a stick violation wiped away another apparent score) put the Cardinal ahead for good, at 8-7 with 16:08 left. Lucy Dikeou followed with a hard-charging goal that resulted in a collision and the ball in the net.
Lyndsey Munoz made six saves and had six ground balls.
Stanford plays its first three games at home, with Harvard up next with a Saturday game at 1 p.m.Linescore:
STANFORD 11, OHIO STATE 9
Ohio State 7 2 – 9
Stanford 5 6 – 11
Ohio State (goals-assists): Katie Chase 3-0, Jennifer Porretto 2-0, Jackie Cifarelli 1-2, Kaila Gottlick 1-0, Kelsea Ayers 1-0, Cian Dabrowski 1-0, Cara Facchina 0-1.
Records: Stanford 1-0, Ohio State 2-1.