Nov. 18, 2012
Box Score |
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford senior captain Alina Garciamendez has experienced much in her 100 starts at Stanford – the highs of a national championship and the lows championship losses.
But while making her milestone start on Saturday in the Cardinal’s 3-0 victory over Denver in the third round of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament, Garciamendez realized that the end is coming soon. Four years can be crystalized in, at the most, three more games.
But the first of those will be a quarterfinal against Pac-12 rival UCLA – a rematch of Stanford’s 2-1 comeback victory in Westwood on October 28 that clinched a fourth consecutive conference championship for the Cardinal.
Stanford (20-1-1) will play host to the Bruins (18-2-2), a 3-0 winner over San Diego State, at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m.
The showdown was made possible by the goals of Alex Doll, Nina Watkins, and Chioma Ubogagu against Denver (17-3-4), the Western Athletic Conference regular-season co-champion.
Doll opened the scoring in the ninth minute on a first-time shot from 12 yards to give the Cardinal all it needed to extend its home unbeaten streak to 66 and its home NCAA tournament winning streak to 19.
Stanford advanced to the quarterfinals for the fifth consecutive season and, in doing so, is one victory away from completing an undefeated home career for its seniors. The class of 2013 is 51-0-1 at Cagan Stadium and 93-3-4 overall.
“There are 10 of us seniors … we’ve been to the final four,” Watkins said. “We know how much it means to us. We’ve lost, we’ve won, we’ve felt all the emotions. And now, finally, our senior year, we don’t want to go away without a national championship.”
Stanford lapsed somewhat after the goal, but rebounded in the second half with a strong possession game that took the fire out of the Pioneers (17-3-4), which had advanced further than any team in program history.
“Once we score one goal, we can’t just let up,” Stanford senior captain Rachel Quon said. “We have to keep going and know there’s still that 70 minutes. We have to take their pressure, but go back to our gameplan of keeping the ball and possession.”
Stanford did just that and was rewarded when Watkins launched a 25-yard left-footed volley into the upper corner in the 57th minute.
In the 78th minute, Ubogagu completed the scoring after being released on a breakaway by Sydney Payne’s through pass down the middle.
The shutout was the 11th of the season for Stanford, which has outscored opponents 57-13 this season. It also was largely a product of the play of its defenders, Garciamendez in particular.
Garciamendez often was the player to prevent the pass that would lead to a clean shot -- the Cardinal outshot Denver, 22-5, and was never really threatened. She has started every match of her collegiate career and appreciates that there will be a 101st start, and hopefully a 102nd and 103rd.
“It speaks a lot to our team,” Garciamendez said of the milestone. “That they were able to help me through all those games, because they’ve helped me as much as I’ve tried to help them.”
But next is UCLA, the team Stanford fully expected to meet again.
“We know what’s at stake,” Garciamendez said. “And we know it’s going to be a huge game. I just know I’m going to keep battling and doing my job for the team.”
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics
Tickets for the match can be purchased online at gostanford.com.