Oct. 23, 2009
STANFORD, Calif.- Backed by a strong first-half surge, No. 12 Stanford hung on for a 4-2 victory over California on Friday night in front of a season-high crowd at the Varsity Turf, clinching the NorPac's West Division regular season title.
Stanford (13-2, 5-1 NorPac) is now assured of the No. 1 seed in the West Division when the NorPac Championship gets underway in two weeks on The Farm. The Cardinal will play its first round match against the No. 4 seed from the East Division on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 1:30 p.m.
Friday's win also avenged a 4-3 upset loss at Berkeley last month, one of just two blemishes on Stanford's gaudy 13-2 record. The Cardinal is now one victory shy of matching its program record of 14 wins established back in 1997.
California (5-10, 3-2 NorPac) actually had an outside shot to steal the West Division's No. 1 seed with a win tonight. Because of their 4-3 victory last month, the Golden Bears held the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinal.
However, Stanford was in control from the start, feeding off the energy of the large crowd on Senior Night.
Relegated to a rare bench role as head coach Lesley Irvine started all six members of this year's senior class, freshman Becky Dru scored twice and made an immediate impact on the contest. Dru found the cage in the 5th minute, giving Stanford a 1-0 lead following a textbook penalty corner attempt with assists from junior Jaimee Erickson and senior Nora Soza.
Cal's Jessica Kreck knotted the game at 1-1 three minutes later, scoring unassisted as she dribbled through the middle of the circle and converted.
But Stanford responded with two goals in a 10-minute span, taking a 3-1 halftime lead. Seniors Rachel Mozenter and Midori Uehara provided the offense, with Mozenter scoring unassisted and Uehara receiving a well-executed baseline pass from sophomore Stephanie Byrne.
Stanford thoroughly dominated the first half, holding a 10-1 edge in shots and a 5-0 advantage in penalty corners.
Three minutes into the second period, Stanford put the game out of reach when Dru rocketed a quick shot from the top of the circle past Cal keeper Maddie Hand.
Cal played much better in the second half, controlling play in almost all areas. The Golden Bears outshot the Cardinal 9-2 over the final 35 minutes and held a 7-0 edge in penalty corners.
The offensive pressure paid off with a goal from Megan Psyllos in the 62nd minute, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
Stanford keeper Alessandra Moss made five saves in goal.
Cal's Erin Magill led all players with four shots.
Seniors Rachel Bush, Jennifer Luther, Rachel Mozenter, Marlana Shile, Nora Soza and Midori Uehara were honored in a pregame ceremony. The six-member class has transformed Stanford into a winning program, claiming back-to-back NorPac Tournament championships and reaching the postseason for the first time in eight years with a 2007 NCAA Tournament appearance.
The third night game of the year at the Varsity Turf created a postseason-type atmosphere, with the Stanford band joining the largest crowd of the season of 548 fans.
Approximately 30 Stanford field hockey alums and supporters were honored in a halftime tribute, as Homecoming Weekend festivities got underway on The Farm.
Next up for Stanford is a critical two-game road trip that will present its biggest obstacle of the year: a matchup at No. 1 Maryland on Friday, Oct. 30. The road swing concludes two days later with a neutral site contest against No. 14 Louisville in College Park, Md. A strong showing against either team will greatly enhance Stanford's resume for the NCAA Tournament.