Even championship teams survive scares and close calls en route to success. That was certainly the case for the No. 2 Cardinal women’s soccer team (7-0-1) as it battled back through two overtimes to edge past No. 22 Santa Clara (4-3-1) by a score of 3-2 and remain undefeated heading into conference play.
Although much has been made of junior forward Taylor Uhl’s fantastic start to the season, Sunday night certainly belonged to fifth-year senior forward Courtney Verloo. The Oregon native did it all for the Cardinal, earning a hat trick to account for all three of Stanford’s goals for the night. In doing so, she more than doubled her season total from two goals to five, while connecting with the back of the net on all three of her shots on goal.
Verloo started the scoring quickly for the Cardinal with a free kick in the second minute of the game. The ball ricocheted off of the left post and into the net to give the Cardinal a 1-0 lead before the 3,200-plus fans at Santa Clara had even settled into their seats.
The Broncos battled back quickly, however, as senior midfielder Julie Johnston took advantage of a miscommunication between Stanford’s freshman goalkeeper Jane Campbell and her defense in the 29th minute. The glitch resulted in a failed attempt at clearing the ball, allowing Johnston to easily power through the out-of-position Cardinal defenders and knot the game up at one goal apiece.
After a standstill throughout most of the second half, Santa Clara broke ahead in the 83rd minute as forward Sofia Huerta — who had been very active the whole game — took advantage of another missed clear and rocketed the ball into the left corner of the net. With that, the Broncos were up 2-1 with just over seven minutes remaining in the match.
While it looked like the Cardinal was going to suffer defeat at the hands of Santa Clara for the first time in nine years, the women from the Farm were not willing to accept anything short of a win.
With just one minute left in regulation, freshman defender Maddie Bauer was fouled from behind, bringing up Verloo — already responsible for Stanford’s first goal of the evening — for the penalty kick.
With just 54 seconds left, Verloo bamboozled Broncos sophomore goalkeeper Andi Tostanoski, easily finding the back of the right side of the net to force the game into overtime.
It was only fitting that 18 minutes later it was Verloo who stepped up to the line to attempt a free kick in double overtime. The forward who had kept the Cardinal in the game would be the one to attempt to seal the victory and try for the first hat trick of her collegiate career.
Verloo certainly made it look easy as she scooted a perfectly placed ball into the lower left corner of the goal to complete the trifecta. The 3-2 final score sent the Cardinal home happy and shocked the Santa Clara crowd that had been primed for a victory just half an hour earlier.
With the victory, the Cardinal extended its winning streak over the Broncos to nine matches and avoided breaking its 159-match winning streak in matches in which it had scored at least one goal. It also ensured that Stanford will begin Pac-12 play at Colorado (8-1-0) on Saturday with an unblemished record.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.