Andi Sullivan’s 75th minute header gave No. 6 Stanford women’s soccer (11-2, 5-0 Pac-12) its fifth straight win, a 1-0 contest over Oregon (4-9, 1-4 Pac-12), but the scoreboard did not truly reflect Stanford’s dominance on the field.
Like they have all season, the Cardinal possessed the ball for most of the match, constantly pushing forward and generating shots. The visiting Ducks went the entire first half without recording a shot and finished with just 3 compared to 22 for the Cardinal.
Despite Stanford’s tremendous shot advantage, they were not able to get good chances for most of the opening 60 minutes. The Cardinal sometimes looked tentative, building up play into the final third before becoming indecisive or sloppy.
Wanting a side with more offensive intent, Ratcliffe moved freshman forward Tegan McGrady into a wingback role on the left side, replacing her at forward with junior Ryan Walker-Hartshorn. In an even rarer move, Ratcliffe started junior Megan Turner at midfield for the second half over freshman Jordan DiBiasi, who has started all 13 games for the Cardinal.
While Turner’s intelligent link-up play and Walker-Hartshorn’s physicality helped rejunivate Stanford’s offense, McGrady’s move to wingback was the biggest for the Cardinal. The freshman has made the most of her recent starts, providing direct offense with a diverse array of moves and beautiful crosses at goal.
“Tegan’s been crushing it. She’s technical and fast, and she’s very versatile,” Sullivan said. “She allows us to be really aggressive, even when she’s playing from the back.”
With 15 minutes left in the game McGrady made her 18th birthday one to remember, sprinting past a Ducks defender up the left side before unleashing an inch-perfect looping cross. While the high ball was curving away from goal, Sullivan ran by her defender and headed the ball toward the far post for her fifth goal of the season. The sophomore was the best player on the pitch, leading the young Stanford offense while shutting down any Oregon player who dribbled her way.
Though she may carry multiple roles on the team, Sullivan has shown to be a capable and multifaceted finisher. Her three goals in the last four games have showcased her development as a well-rounded midfielder and one of the best collegiate players in the country.
“I don’t necessarily see myself as a goalscorer; that’s just been me getting some good chances lately,” Sullivan said after the match. “My job is more to be a facilitator and create chances, and once that happens play really opens up.”
While Sullivan’s highlight goals and stellar offensive play have been enormous for Stanford so far during conference play, the Cardinal defense continues to be the hallmark of the team’s success. Goalkeeper Jane Campbell and the Stanford back four had another spectacular, if uneventful, day, and their overwhelming talent makes even one-goal leads look insurmountable.
Armed with a top-tier defense, and with burgeoning underclassmen providing the goals, Stanford will continue to be a force in the Pac-12 this season. The Cardinal continue conference play at home on Friday against Colorado.
Contact Sanjay Srinivas at sanjay_srinivas ‘at’ stanford.edu.