Nov. 6, 2007
The Reward?: No. 1 North Carolina At Chapel Hill, N.C.
NorPac Champs For First Time Since 2000
STANFORD, Calif.- They got here because of a relentless offensive attack. Now they are moving on thanks to a stingy defense.
After outscoring its opponents 11-2 en route to capturing last weekend's NorPac Tournament title, Stanford received a goal from freshman Xanthe Travlos and grinded out an opportunistic 1-0 victory over Lock Haven on Monday morning in an NCAA play-in game at the Varsity Turf.
Monday's victory translates into an NCAA Tournament berth for Stanford (13-7, 5-1 NorPac), the program's eighth overall and first since 2000. The Cardinal blanked Holy Cross 1-0 in a play-in game on the road that year before falling to top-ranked Old Dominion 6-1 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Stanford, which has outscored its foes 20-4 during its current five-game winning streak, now earns a date with No. 1 North Carolina in the opening round. The two squads will face off on Saturday, Nov. 10, in Chapel Hill, N.C. at 8 a.m. PST. The four-time NCAA champion Tar Heels, the tournament's top seed, are the nation's only undefeated squad and have qualified for 23 NCAA Tournaments.
However, none of that matters for the moment. Stanford has made its first winning season in seven years count and the 13 wins are tied for the second-most in school history.
"I am so proud of our team and how hard everyone has worked all season long," said Lesley Irvine, named NorPac Coach of the Year after guiding Stanford to a memorable year that included a 6-0 start and first appearance in the national rankings since 2001. "We have played tough teams like this all year so it helped knowing that we just had to continue to chip away. This was a test of our character and we found a way to pull it through."
It looked a little uneasy early on. Only six shots combined were attempted by both sides in a hard-fought, tense first half. Four of those came from Lock Haven (17-6, 8-0 NEC), a five-time Division II national champion that breezed through the Northeast Conference and won both the regular season and conference titles.
Perhaps Stanford's only first-half highlight came midway through the first quarter, when freshman Katherine Donner eluded five different Lock Haven defenders with some nifty stick-handling along the sideline in front of the scorers table.
Both teams generated a few more scoring opportunities at the start of the second half but could not convert.
At the 51:14, Travlos put the Cardinal up 1-0 with her ninth goal of the year. During a scrum inside the circle, sophomore Rachel Mozenter tapped a pass to Travlos, who beat Lady Eagle keeper Erin Terreson top-shelf with a quick shot into the cage.
"It wasn't a pretty game at all and we just gutted it out," said Travlos, one of the Cardinal's top offensive threats this year with nine goals and a team-leading 71 shots in her debut season. "Everyone held together and played a role. It looks like we are peaking at the right time."
Lock Haven outshot Stanford 12-7 while the Cardinal owned a 4-3 edge in penalty corners, a department that has been the club's strength all season long. Travlos ripped off four shots to lead Stanford while Lock Haven's do-everything forward Blair Wynne notched a game-high seven shots. Otherwise, she was bottled up by a determined Stanford defense that put the clamps down from the opening minute.
A lot of that credit goes to senior goalkeeper Madison Bell, who posted her fourth shutout of the year. Bell, along with fellow senior Jess Zutz, can appreciate the impressive season and NCAA Tournament appearance even more after three consecutive losing seasons.
"This is beyond words," said Bell. "This team has great chemistry and is just real special. We have worked hard for this opportunity and today was an example of that. Our defense did a phenomenal job putting pressure on them and stopping their players early."