Sept. 30, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - Any goal scored in soccer is not just the result of the player who scored it, and far more than a single touch of individual brilliance.
That concept was illustrated perfectly by Stanford in scoring the winning goal in its 2-1 Pac-12 women's soccer victory over Oregon on Sunday at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
The sequence began, as it often does, with a 50-50 ball. Lo'eau LaBonta scrambled to get a toe on a loose ball back in the Stanford end while an Oregon player attempted to do the same. Her touch sent the ball wide to outside back Laura Liedle, who was able to reach it a split-second before a sliding opponent.
Now, given room up the sideline, Liedle pushed it forward to Chioma Ubogagu, who carried it deep into the Oregon end for a cross from the left.
Alex Doll got to the ball first, but her shot was blocked by a defender.
We pause in the story telling to recall a similar play - in the NCAA College Cup final in December. It was on the field in Kennesaw, Ga., when then-senior Camille Levin had a cross blocked, but hustled to the loose ball before the defender could recover, to send in the pass that resulted in the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Duke, giving Stanford its' first national championship.
The memory is important because of the way second-effort ingrained itself into the lore of a championship season, and in the hopes of a program that strives to live up to the standards of its past.
In this case, Doll took a page from Levin and beat the defense to the ball, just enough to poke it with her toe through the goalkeeper's legs from close range for the 58th-minute winner that kept the No. 2 Cardinal (9-1-1 overall, 3-0 Pac-12) atop the conference standings.
In Doll's mind, the goal made up for the Oregon goal that had tied the match, 1-1, only 30 seconds before halftime, on a 25-yard free kick to the upper corner by Scout Libke.
Stanford had not allowed a first-half goal since Aug. 24, ending a streak of first-half shutouts at eight and an opening-half scoreless streak of 430 minutes, 57 seconds.
"That was definitely hard, especially since I gave up the foul," Doll said. "It was kind of annoying on my part, but it just made me a little bit more mad.
"I thought we had a lot of really good chances in the first half so I knew we could do it, I knew we could put it away. But I think that gave us a little bit of energy."
It was the third goal of the season for Doll and her second game-winner.
Haley Rosen scored Stanford's first goal in similar fashion, knocking in a rebound during a scramble following a corner kick in the 38th minute for her third goal of the season.
Later, Mariah Nogueira had a second-half header that hit the underside of the crossbar, but did not cross the goal-line. The Cardinal, which outshot Oregon, 34-9, increased its conference winning streak to 34 and its home unbeaten streak to 61.
"We should definitely be happy, even though we didn't score as many as we thought we should have and didn't put them away," Doll said. "But we got the win and that's definitely the most important thing."
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics