On a cold Friday night at Cagan Stadium, the No. 1 women’s soccer team heated up quickly. Seven minutes into the game, sophomore midfielder Alex Doll opened the scoring and from that point on, the Cardinal (18-1-1) never looked back on its way to a 3-0 win over Idaho State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Idaho State, the Big Sky conference champion, was clearly overmatched against a Cardinal squad looking to defend its national title.
“We didn’t know much about Idaho State, but with this being the NCAA Tournament, every game from tonight on is do-or-die,” Doll said. “No matter the opponent, we have to take every game seriously.”
The first goal developed from an attack by forward Chioma Ubogagu. The sophomore crossed the ball from the left side to senior Nina Watkins. Watkins chested the ball down for Doll to finish with one touch from three yards out.
The Cardinal didn’t let up after opening the scoring. Idaho State freshman goalkeeper Sheridan Hapsic was kept very busy as Stanford peppered the Bengal net with chances. The Cardinal outshot the Bengals 17-2 in the first half and 31-7 for the game.
In the 21st minute, Ubogagu registered another assist on a Courtney Verloo goal. Ubogagu picked up the ball in the center of the field and slotted a diagonal ball directly into the path of a streaking Verloo. The redshirt junior then placed the ball just inside the far post to double Stanford’s lead–it was the forward’s team-leading 8th goal of the season.
The Cardinal almost added another in the 24th minute when senior captain Rachel Quon rushed down the right sideline and sent a cross into the box. Her classmate Mariah Nogueira was there for the diving header, but Hapsic made a great save to keep the ball out.
Stanford would break through again just before halftime. After the Bengals cleared the ball, Cardinal defender Madeleine Thompson put the pressure back on with a long ball over the top. Junior Sydney Payne tiptoed the offside line to receive the ball in plenty of space. The forward turned and ripped a half volley into the upper corner that Hapsic had no chance to stop.
“I always like to bring a spark to the team and I think I did that tonight,” Payne said. “I was glad I could help out with a goal. It was one of the best goals I’ve had in a while. It was a fun one.”
Idaho State began the game by trying to press Stanford all over the field, but shifted into a defensive shell after halftime. The change made little difference as the Cardinal continued to pick apart the Bengal defense.
The game was only kept close by the efforts of Idaho State goalkeeper Sheridan Hapsic. The freshman led the Bengals into the tournament by winning two penalty shootouts in the Big Sky playoffs and continued her strong play in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Hapsic recorded 10 saves on the night.
In the 50th minute, Doll’s shot from twelve yards out was just barely tipped over the bar by Hapsic. Three minutes later, Nogueira hit a rocket from outside the box that missed the upper corner by inches.
With 20 minutes left in the game, Stanford began substituting almost all of its starters.
“I was able to play everybody which is always great for the team spirit,” said Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe. “What’s even better is that everyone performed well.”
Senior Marjani Hing-Glover was particularly threatening after entering the game. The forward, who has battled injury all season, had four shots in 14 minutes of play but was unable to put one away.
Senior Aly Gleason replaced Emily Oliver as goalkeeper in the 80th minute. The two goalkeepers combined for four saves for the team’s 10th shutout of the season.
“I thought the team had high energy while scoring three great goals,” Ratcliffe said. “It was a great night and a great way for our program to start the playoffs.”
The Cardinal will continue to enjoy home-field advantage next weekend when it hosts Santa Clara in the second round. Stanford beat Santa Clara 6-1 in the first match of the season. The Cardinal is undefeated in its past 64 games at home.
The game will kickoff at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16, following a matchup between Denver and Maryland at 4:30.
The two winners will meet on Sunday at 1 p.m., also at Cagan Stadium. Tickets for both rounds are now on sale at GoStanford.com.
“We’re now going to concentrate on next weekend,” Doll said. “From now on, we have to win each game and focus on the next challenge.”