On Senior Night at Cagan Stadium, there was someone, somewhere writing the script for the No. 4 Stanford women’s soccer team (16-1-2, 8-1-1 Pac-12) in its last regular season home game against Oregon State. In a storybook ending to the home season, the Cardinal set a school record for shots as they recorded 48 in a 7-0 drubbing of the Beavers (0-16-3, 0-10-0).
The Beavers, which have four games left to record their first victory of the season, looked aimless amongst the constant Cardinal attack. And what better way to celebrate Senior Night than with seven goals — all by four seniors and with five of six assists coming from four seniors, with the last off the boot of junior back Laura Liedle.
Senior forward Taylor Uhl, who has refined her lethal touch over the last few games, had the third Cardinal hat trick on the season in the romp. Senior midfielder Lauren Schmidt, who scored her first career goal against Colorado, added two more points to her name, recording her first assist on the year in just the third minute and adding another in the 45th minute on a beautiful cross from the right side to reward a streaking senior midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta arriving directly between Oregon State’s center backs.
There were no bad games from the Cardinal on Sunday afternoon, though junior keeper Sarah Cox was really only called into action once, coming out decisively to stop the only real Beaver opportunity. Stanford defenders allowed just three shots all game long, two of which were desperation kicks taken more out of frustration than anything else. The shot disparity (48-3) really told the story of the game, as the Cardinal attack had the Beavers on their back foots for almost the entirety of the game.
It was really the perfect ending to Senior Night, as it was the Stanford seniors who were instrumental in the team’s dominance. The Cardinal played about as perfect as a game as could be played and were superior in all phases of the game.
“The seniors were great and the underclassmen really helped make this day special,” Schmidt said. “It was really a team effort…With the energy coming out on the field, there was nothing holding us back; we were just going to go for it.”
Uhl was also certainly brimming with energy on her way to her first hat trick on the year after sophomore Ryan Walker-Hartshorn had previously notched two.
“Everyone’s hitting their prime at the right part of the season,” Uhl said. “Going into our last couple games, it really helps to get a big win like this.”
LaBonta left her signature and the imprint of her boot on another firecracker shot in the 84th minute to go along with her header in the first half in what has been a fantastic senior season. Always deadly at any distance, LaBonta has looked like she is at 100 percent for perhaps the first time in her collegiate career — a prospect that should terrify opposing sides.
The emergence of Uhl will also be tantamount moving forward, this Stanford team is really at its best with a force like her up front. The highlights of the match could hardly be referred to as highlights as all, the very idea implies that there were a few moments of brilliance; instead, the entire game played out like a highlight reel. However, a moment that stood out in sheer beauty was senior Haley Rosen’s roofing of a ball that was chipped forward by LaBonta. Rosen let it bounce once in front of her before juggling the ball over her defender on her knee and then snapping a shot into the top netting.
Equally impressive was senior forward Chioma Ubogagu’s scintillating run in which she ghosted past four defenders on the left side of the box, five yards from the end line, before firing it to the far side into the right corner.
“They were all just really great goals,” said head coach Paul Ratcliffe. “I’m sure the fans got their money’s worth.”
The game, in front of a packed crowd at Cagan, was one of the most entertaining of the year, and the most assertive effort by the Cardinal in recent memory. Everyone played a part — far too many names to list. The Cardinal will carry the momentum from this game into their draw against their ancient rival, the Cal Golden Bears, at Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium. If they can continue their tremendous form, the Cardinal are a lock to play their first postseason game at home.
“We’re starting to peak toward the end of the year, which is really what we want,” Ratcliffe said.
Stanford will take on California in Berkeley for its last game of the regular season. The game will start at 2 p.m. on Thursday and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
This article originally credited Hannah Farr with an assist but has been corrected to show that junior defender Laura Liedle recorded an assist in the game instead. The Daily regrets this error.
Contact Nicholas Radoff at nradoff ‘at’ stanford.edu.