By Fiona Noonan
After yet another close overtime finish, the No. 17 Cardinal (15-5-1) advanced to the NCAA tournament round of 16 with a 1-0 win against No. 14 South Carolina (17-4-2) Friday night.
For the second time in as many games, junior forward Taylor Uhl lifted the team to victory, scoring the golden goal in the second minute of the first overtime to defeat the Gamecocks at UCLA’s Drake Stadium.
The Cardinal had several good scoring opportunities before finally converting, including a chip by junior forward Chioma Ubogagu and a shot by senior defender Natalie Griffen that bounced off of the crossbar in the 80th minute. By the end of regulation, however, the score remained tied at 0-0.
This Stanford team was used to playing in overtime, having gone into extra minutes six times before Friday’s match. After having suffered a 1-0 overtime loss to Cal in the final match of the regular season, the Cardinal must certainly have been motivated to deal with the Gamecocks swiftly.
Uhl’s goal came on the heels of a shot by Ubogagu from the top of the penalty box that was deflected by South Carolina goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo, the Southeastern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Uhl followed up on the deflection with a shot placed just inside the post.
Uhl is the only Stanford player to have scored in the postseason, and her goal Friday was her 12th of the season, making her the Pac-12 conference’s scoring leader.
The win also makes this the eighth consecutive season that Stanford has reached the third round of the playoffs, and only four more matches stand between the team and another national championship.
Stanford will play its next match Sunday against Pac-12 champion UCLA, again at Drake Stadium. The Bruins are coming off of a 3-0 second-round win over Kentucky, and after a regular-season match that resulted in a 2-1 double overtime victory for UCLA, the Cardinal is hungry.
“We came into the season with two goals, to win the Pac-12 title and the national championship,” Ubogagu told gostanford.com. “We didn’t get the first one, but we can still get the second. We told ourselves before the playoffs that ‘the new season starts now. Everyone has a clean slate. Everyone needs to focus on winning a championship.’”
The Cardinal kicks off its round of 16 match against the Bruins at 4 p.m. on Sunday in Los Angeles.
Contact Fiona Noonan at fnoonan ‘at’ stanford.edu.