Nov. 10, 2009
BOSTON- Sophomore Stephanie Byrne knocked home the game-winning goal eight minutes into the first overtime period, leading No. 14 Stanford past Boston University 3-2 on Tuesday morning in an extremely thrilling NCAA Play-In game.
With the win, Stanford (17-4, 5-1 NorPac) punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal, which most recently qualified for the NCAA Tournament two years ago, will learn its postseason status when selections are announced later Tuesday evening.
Enjoying its best season in school history, Stanford was appearing in the NCAA Play-In game for the third straight year. After blanking California 3-0 last weekend to capture its third straight NorPac Tournament title, the Cardinal earned a spot in Tuesday's Play-In game. Despite entering the game with a 10-11 record, Boston University had already been designated as the host and carried serious momentum after stunning then-No. 17 Albany to win the America East Tournament.
But part of the reason for Stanford's record-setting season has been the club's ability to win on the road. The Cardinal has been battle-tested away from home this year, chalking up a 7-4 mark with key wins at No. 17 Iowa (3-2 in overtime) and Northwestern (3-1). That's a sharp contrast to recent years considering the Cardinal had not posted a winning record on the road since a 4-3 ledger in 2002.
The experience paid dividends on Tuesday morning. Stanford trailed at the half for just the fourth time this year and a miracle goal from Boston University with just 21 seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime.
"Everyone kept fighting and believing, and that was the key," said head coach Lesley Irvine, who has directed Stanford to its winningest season in school history at 17-4. "We had been in this situation before, and those experiences helped us greatly. It was critical to keep applying pressure offensively while our defense stepped up and made some big plays. I'm so excited for the team, because this has been such a special season and we wanted to keep playing."
Irvine might have been referring to Stanford's 3-2 overtime upset victory at No. 17 Iowa back in September. Regarded as the signature victory that vaulted Stanford into the national polls and kept the Cardinal in the postseason discussion, the similarities in the two games were extremely close. Tied 1-1 at intermission, Iowa found the cage with just under two minutes left to force overtime before junior Jaimee Erickson scored in the first minute.
On Tuesday morning, it was Byrne tapping home the game-winner at the 77:32 mark, after Boston University (10-12, 4-1 America East) outshot Stanford 5-1 over the first seven minutes, including a blast that rocketed off the post.
Nicole van Oosterom put Boston University ahead 1-0 at the 8:23 mark of the first period, scoring on a reverse stick drive from five yards out. The first period ended with both teams attempting four shots.
Junior Xanthe Travlos scored her team-leading 17th goal of the year in the 46th minute, taking a pass from junior Camille Gandhi and finding the cage. That made it 1-1, and Stanford was suddenly back in business.
Just under 10 minutes later, Gandhi scored her first goal since Oct. 17 when she scored from the top of the circle on a pass from senior Rachel Mozenter. The Cardinal was now ahead 2-1, and looked to be in the driver's seat after waiting anxiously for any type of offense during the first 40 minutes.
Stanford outshot Boston University 8-4 in the second half and attempted six penalty corners compared to just one from the Terriers.
However, that lone Boston University penalty corner attempt was awarded with 21 seconds remaining. And the Terriers converted, as Jacinda McLeod found the cage with assists from Haley Robinson and Allie Dolce, sending the raucous home crowd into a frenzy.
Stanford keeper Alessandra Moss made five saves and kept Stanford within striking distance the entire game, including the first overtime where she turned away five shots while making two saves.
Byrne then connected for the game-winner.
Freshman Becky Dru led all players with four shot attempts.
NOTES: Stanford is no stranger to the NCAA Play-In game, appearing in the contest for the third year in a row. In 2008, Stanford dropped an 8-2 decision at No. 9 Princeton as the Tigers qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Two years ago, Stanford reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000 with a 1-0 home shutout of Lock Haven in the NCAA Play-In game ... Stanford will be making its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance. The Cardinal is 0-8 all-time in the postseason ... Stanford has won five consecutive overtime games dating back to Oct. 6, 2008. Included in that mix is a stroke-off win over Pacific ... Stanford has scored at least three goals in a match 17 times this year ... Both teams attempted 13 penalty corners on Tuesday.