Five games and 484 game minutes into the 2014 season, the back of the Stanford net remains untouched.
Through five matches — four against ranked opponents — Cardinal goalkeepers Jane Campbell and Sarah Cox have yet to concede a goal, tying a school record to start a season. In that span, Campbell, a sophomore and one of the most highly touted young goalkeepers in the world, has recorded four solo clean sheets, bringing her career total up to ten.
Following a monumental season-opening 1-0 overtime win over the then-No. 4 North Carolina in Chapel Hill — one that broke a 13-match losing streak to the Tarheels — and a 2-0 victory over No. 18 Duke, the Stanford women’s soccer squad (4-0-1) faced another tough test at No. 14 Portland on Aug. 30.
The Cardinal defense dominated the Pilots despite the absence of talented central defender Maddie Bauer, who missed the game due to a minor injury. With Bauer out, senior Hannah Farr made her first career start at outside back as junior Laura Liedle shifted to the center back role, teaming up with experienced fifth-year senior Kendall Romine in the middle.
On the offensive end, senior forward Chioma Ubogagu scored the game’s only goal in the 30th minute with a clinical left-footed finish from 12 yards out. The goal was Ubogagu’s second in the young season with her first coming in the 99th minute of Stanford’s overtime victory over UNC.
After starting the season with three wins over ranked teams away from home, the Cardinal finally returned to The Farm to take on the UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos on Sept. 4. Bauer returned to the starting lineup as the Stanford back line continued their dominating start to the season.
Ubogagu was once again the catalyst offensively; in the 16th minute, the senior delivered a shot on goal that was saved, but allowed sophomore forward Ryan Walker-Hartshorn to cash in on the ensuing scramble.
Three minutes later, Ubogagu added a goal of her own following a beautiful through ball from freshman midfielder Andi Sullivan. Ubogagu handled the pass brilliantly, dribbled into the penalty area and scored her third goal of the season from her signature left foot.
In goal, Campbell was barely challenged, registering just one save before the half while her backup, Cox, made just one save as well in the second half. In total, the overmatched Gauchos only managed to deliver five shots.
On Sunday, Sept. 7, the Cardinal returned to action at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium, taking on another ranked opponent in No. 25 Notre Dame. Although Campbell picked up another clean sheet, Stanford was unable to secure the victory, going scoreless through regulation and two periods of extra time. The 0-0 final score snapped the Cardinal’s four-game winning streak, but another strong defensive performance helped keep Stanford out of the loss column.
The Cardinal had several scoring chances against the Irish, but failed to convert. Senior midfielder Alex Doll, senior forward Taylor Uhl and Ubogagu all barely missed on scoring opportunities in either the second half or overtime.
After the match, Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe praised his team’s defensive performance, but also emphasized the importance on finishing offensively.
“The whole team is contributing to the defense. The back four is very strong,” Ratcliffe said. “The hardest part is scoring goals. That’s where we need to keep growing. It was one of those days. That’s where you need to finish the job.”
Stanford will have a chance to break its offensive dry spell on Friday when the No. 8 Florida Gators come to town. The match will mark Stanford’s fifth bout against a ranked opponent in six games this season. Following Friday’s contest, Stanford will take the field again on Sunday against the Dayton Flyers.
Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.