Nov. 4, 2012
BERKELEY, Calif. - Courtney Verloo's fourth-minute goal stood for the No. 1 Stanford women's soccer team, which completed its fourth consecutive perfect conference season with a 1-0 victory over No. 23 California before 3,790 at Edwards Stadium on Sunday.
Stanford (17-1-1 overall, 11-0 Pac-12) won its 42nd consecutive conference match - the third-longest streak in NCAA Division I history - and its 10-player senior class finished 40-0-0 in conference play.
"It's a testament to the character and talent level of this class," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "It will be difficult to duplicate."
Stanford, which clinched its fourth consecutive Pac-12 title last weekend, will find out its first postseason opponent on Monday when the NCAA tournament field will be announced during a 1:30 p.m. PT selection show on ncaa.com. Stanford will play Friday and has placed a bid to host a first-round match.
Cal (15-5, 8-3), which finished third in the Pac-12 and is expected to receive an at-large bid, attacked feverishly over the final 20 minutes, but the Cardinal defense held off the Golden Bears to earn its ninth shutout and the 26th in the career of junior goalkeeper Emily Oliver.
"Every year our goal is to win every single game in the Pac-12," senior captain Alina Garciamendez said. "We really wanted to finish strong, but not just because of what it would mean to our senior class. It was a true team effort."
Verloo tied Mariah Nogueira for the team goal-scoring lead with her seventh of the season. She benefitted from a run on the left side by Chioma Ubogagu, who beat a pair of defenders to the end line and then laid a pass up in the penalty area to Verloo, who first-timed a swift right-footed shot.
"The goal was huge and we were able to hang on," Verloo said. "We had a lot of chances that I think we should've finished. But we got the result, and that's all that matters."
The goal, scored only 3:20 into the match, would seem bigger later when Cal provided a series of late strikes that nearly tied it, including shots off the crossbar and post. Stanford, however, also forced Cal goalkeeper Emily Kruger into a number of strong saves in a wild second half.
Stanford -- 10-1 in one-goal matches this season - figures the tight pressure-packed contest will help prepare itself for postseason play.
"From here on out, it's a different mindset," Verloo said. "You lose and you're done. We could easily meet Cal in the playoffs and every game is going to be hard from the beginning. Today was a great reminder of that."
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics