The top-ranked women’s soccer team will welcome the Pac-12’s newest members, Utah and Colorado, to the Farm this weekend in games tonight and Sunday afternoon.
For the Utes (8-6-1, 4-2-0) and Buffs (3-9-2, 0-4-1), it likely won’t be a warm welcome from the Cardinal — Stanford has won its last 26 conference games and has been blowing by its outmatched Pac-12 competition in recent weeks.
Stanford kicked off conference play by routing Arizona 7-0 at home before heading north to eke out a pair of 1-0 wins over Washington and No. 23 Washington State, which is currently second in the Pac-12 standings.
The Cardinal then returned to the friendly confines of Laird Q. Cagan Stadium — where they have won 43 straight games — to demolish USC 3-0 and beat then-No. 3 UCLA 4-1. And last week, Stanford traveled to Arizona State and took down the Sun Devils, 3-1.
Now, the team will try to keep chugging along towards a Pac-12 title, with five games remaining. Utah could be the Cardinal’s most significant roadblock to the conference championship — the Utes, in fourth place, are two games behind Stanford in Pac-12 standings. Utah is coming off a big 1-0 overtime win over No. 18 Oregon State and will be traveling to Palo Alto looking for an upset. The Utes are led by senior forward Erin Dalley, who has won two Pac-12 Player of the Week awards and leads the team in points (12), goals (5), game winners (3), shots (30) and shots-on-goal (15).
However, Stanford will counter with its own superstar seniors, most notably forward Lindsay Taylor (24 points) and midfielder Teresa Noyola (21 points). That duo, combined with excellent play in the net by sophomore Emily Oliver and a strong push by freshman forward Chioma Ubogagu to break the freshman points record — she is already at 20 — bode well for a Cardinal victory.
Colorado, on the other hand, sits at the bottom of the Pac-12 standings and is winless in conference play thus far. As long as Stanford does not overlook the Buffs — a problem which should not arise for this veteran-laden, well-coached squad — it should cruise to an easy victory.
The Cardinal starts at 7 p.m. Friday against Utah and 1 p.m. Sunday against Colorado. Both games are at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.