By Fiona Noonan
The No. 10 Stanford women’s soccer team (9-3-1, 2-3-0 Pac-12) goes up against unranked Utah (7-2-5, 3-1-1) Friday night in the final match of its five-game homestand.
Not only will it attempt to restart the team’s historic success in a win against the Utes, but also it will do so in front of over 60 of the program’s alumnae, who will be honored in a halftime ceremony as part of Homecoming Weekend.
The game comes in the wake of the Cardinal’s third consecutive home conference loss, the most recent of which was a 1-0 defeat suffered against USC (6-6-2, 1-3-1) this past Sunday. The first of those losses broke a six-year undefeated streak at Cagan Stadium.
The Cardinal holds a 4-1 lead in the all-time series against Utah, but will need to be prepared for Utah’s leading scorer, junior midfielder Katie Taylor, who scored the game-winning goal against WSU Sunday for a 4-3 overtime victory.
A victory for Stanford would prevent extending the team’s longest losing streak since 2006, when it lost three games from the end of the 2005 to the beginning of the 2006 season.
Head coach Paul Ratcliffe is looking for “better play” against Utah. He emphasized maintaining possession, increasing the offensive attack, playing with energy and scoring goals as keys to success.
“I think this team’s lacking a little bit of confidence,” Ratcliffe said, “and if they get a goal, then I think you could see a different team.”
In terms of the whole team’s mindset, senior defender and co-captain Kendall Romine also talked about confidence.
“[We are] trying to just stay positive,” Romine said. “We’re trying to reevaluate and figure out what we can do to come back and really make a statement and show what we’re capable of doing.”
Aside from scoring, the team’s primary concern this week has been attention to detail, according to Romine.
“A score doesn’t always dictate the performance of the game,” Romine said, “but at the same time it’s something where the smallest little detail can cause you to lose or win a game.”
If all goes well, this attention to detail will result in quality shots for the Cardinal. Stanford certainly has more than ample firepower up top between junior forward Taylor Uhl, senior co-captain forward Courtney Verloo and junior forward Chioma Ubogagu, who had several excellent scoring opportunities against the Trojans.
Uhl, who didn’t see much playing time on Sunday, could be critical to the offensive attack against Utah.
No matter what, the Cardinal has high expectations to fulfill in front of what is sure to be a huge Homecoming crowd. This match will be critical for the team’s overall confidence before it begins a long road trip and continues to reevaluate.
“We have a lot of work to do and, you know, we’re going to see their character now,” Ratcliffe said. “They’re true champions, they’re going to work harder and keep improving and down the stretch we’ll get stronger.”
The Cardinal will kick off against the Utes on Friday at 7 p.m. at Cagan Stadium.
Contact Fiona Noonan at fnoonan ‘at’ stanford.edu.