STANFORD, Calif. – For the first time since 2007, Stanford’s women’s soccer team lost at home.
Arizona State beat the No. 2 Cardinal 1-0 on Sunday night at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium, also snapping Stanford’s 44-match conference winning streak.
Stanford’s home unbeaten streak measured 73 and is the second-longest in NCAA Division I women’s soccer history, behind only North Carolina’s 84 from 1986-94. The Cardinal went 70-0-3 in that span.
Consider this: Stanford’s eight freshmen were in seventh grade on Nov. 23, 2007, when the Cardinal lost to Connecticut, 2-0, in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
It also was notable as the last collegiate match for current U.S. national team captain Rachel Buehler, a former Stanford star. At that time, Stanford had not been to the NCAA College Cup since 1993.
But over the next five seasons, Stanford would go every time, capturing the 2011 NCAA title. On occasion of Stanford’s first home loss in six years, it’s an opportune time to acknowledge the outstanding players and teams who assembled that streak.
“Honestly, I don’t think it’ll be replicated,” Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “It’s so hard to do, and I’m surprised we’ve done it for that long. I really am.”
Unranked Arizona State (7-4 overall, 2-1 Pac-12) scored on a 25-yard shot from Sara Tosti into the upper right corner in the 24th minute and overcame a late Stanford shooting barrage to close out the victory.
“I’d rather lose now and have another game to play, than lose at the end of the year again, when the season’s over and you have to wait six months,” Ratcliffe said. “So, it’s good we have a game on Thursday and get it out of our system and play again. That’s the positive side of it.
“Obviously, I hate losing, I’m a competitor and I know the players are very upset about losing too.”
Stanford (9-1-1, 2-1) resumes play Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks) against visiting UCLA, the nation’s No. 3-ranked team and the side conference coaches picked to win the Pac-12. Four-time defending champion Stanford and UCLA have combined to earn at least a share of the past 12 Pac-12 titles.
“We are the underdog,” Ratcliffe said. “They were selected to finish first. So, we have a lot to prove. Right now, things aren’t looking good. We’re going to have to really prove something to win that game. We’re going to have to overachieve to beat them.”
Stanford had 13 of its 19 shots in the second half, and had chances in the final minutes, particularly on tries by Ryan Walker-Hartshorn and Taylor Uhl. The Cardinal threw out all pretenses, placing an extra attacker on the field, and sending the ball into the penalty area as best it could.
Arizona State stood firm, and got some excellent saves from goalkeeper Chandler Morris to protect the lead. The shot total was 19-17 in Stanford's favor. And the saves – seven for Morris and six for Stanford’s Jane Campbell – also reflected the even play.
Still, Stanford fell short of North Carolina’s NCAA record of 84 from 1986-94.
Stanford had not lost a Pac-10/12 match since a 1-0 loss at UCLA on Oct. 31, 2008 and its conference winning streak is the third-longest in NCAA Division I history, behind North Carolina’s 55 (1994-2000) and Florida’s 49 (1997-2001).
Other Cardinal streaks snapped were a 27-match home conference winning streak and a 26-match regular-season unbeaten streak.
“I always said this was a young team, and there are growing pains,” Ratcliffe said. “I feel we’ve really overachieved so far and I’ve been happy with that. But we need to keep getting better in all aspects of our game. Every player needs to improve.
“As coaches, we need to keep improving too. Hopefully, we’ll learn from this and we’ll get more of a competitive drive, because they’ll have had that taste of losing. We’ve got to take the positive from it and learn from it and grow from it.”