Nov. 28, 2008
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STANFORD, Calif. - The 2008 Stanford women's soccer team is headed to the College Cup for the second time in program history, courtesy of sophomore Christen Press' game-winner in the 86th minute. Press knocked in the lone goal of the game and the Cardinal defense kept Portland off the board, giving Stanford a 1-0 victory over the Pilots tonight in quarterfinal action of the 2008 NCAA DI Women's Soccer Championship at the Cardinal's Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
The match was tight and hard-fought for the entire 90 minutes, as each team earned several quality chances to score.
At 9:06, Stanford junior Kelley O'Hara had the first solid try of the game, blasting a shot at the right upper-90 from the left side, but Portland goalkeeper Kelsey Davis was able to make a brilliant save, getting a hand on it and punching it away from danger.
In the 25th minute, the Cardinal called on sophomore goalkeeper Kira Maker to make a sensational save to keep the game scoreless, tipping Charney Burk's long-range shot over the crossbar.
At the end of the first half, both Stanford and the Pilots had recorded six shots, two saves, and six corner kicks apiece.
Thirteen minutes in to the second half, Portland gave the Cardinal a scare, as a Sophie Schmidt header hit the crossbar and the following rebound went right to Burk. Burk then shot the ball over Maker, but Stanford junior Ali Riley was there to head the ball off the line.
At 76:32, Davis again came up big for Portland, tipping Press' shot over the crossbar. Davis, who played phenomenally, finished with season-high eight saves, and time and time again kept the Pilots in the match.
Then it looked as if the Cardinal had broken the draw with nearly 10 minutes left, as Press' strike was touched in by sophomore Allison McCann, but the referee ruled no goal, calling a foul on Stanford and relieving both Davis and her Pilot teammates.
Fortunately for the Cardinal, Davis was unable to remain perfect. At 85:29, Press capitalized on her seventh shot of the night. With the ball, Press lost her defender about eight yards in front of the goal and to the right. She then unleashed a rocket high and to the center of the goal and watched it sail into the net past Davis.
The tally would be enough, as Stanford held on for its 22nd victory of the year. The Cardinal went on to out-shoot Portland 21-10, and Kira Maker did not have to make any additional saves in the second half to preserve the shutout, her 14th of the season.
"I am very excited about getting to the College Cup, but our job isn't done yet," said Head Coach Paul Ratcliffe. "We want to win the national title; it has always been our goal, since the beginning of the season. We will celebrate a little bit, but ultimately we want to win the entire thing."
Stanford now heads to Cary, N.C. for the 2008 College Cup at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Cardinal will meet the undefeated Notre Dame Irish in a semifinal to be played either at 4:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 5. The game will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN-U. This is the first time the Cardinal has advanced to the College Cup since 1993.
Game notes: The sell-out crowd of 2,300 was established at 6:15 p.m., 45 minutes before kickoff ... fans who were not able to purchase a ticket surrounded the perimeter of the stadium, trying to get a view of the field from the corners and above the barricade fence ... Christen Press has recorded a point in every NCAA game this year, scoring three goals and two assists ... the Cardinal also scored the game-winner in the 86th minute in the NCAA Third Round match against Rutgers ... three of the No. 1 seeds have punched their ticket the final four, with the fourth No. 1 seed, UCLA, set to play Duke on Saturday in the last quarterfinal.