After four players — senior Andi Sullivan, junior Kyra Carusa, sophomore Tierna Davidson and freshman Catarina Macario — were nominated to the all-Pacific team on Tuesday, No. 1 Stanford women’s soccer (22-1-0) travels to Florida this weekend to participate in its eighth college cup. The Cardinal kicks off with a game against No. 5 South Carolina (19-2-1) on Friday, and in case of victory will face the winner of No. 3 Duke and No. 4 UCLA on Sunday.
Stanford punched its ticket to Orlando with a statement 4-0 win against Penn State last Friday. The Cardinal showed they were ready to play as they led 1-0 after only two minutes of play and had scored three times in the first 12 minutes of the contest.
The Cardinal will start its College Cup to try to earn a second-ever program title with a matchup against South Carolina. The Gamecocks are coming off a 2-0 win over No. 19 Florida in the previous round, and will compete for the first College Cup this weekend. Early this year, the then-ranked eighth Gators had handed the Cardinal their first season loss. Since then Stanford has won 20 straight.
Despite holding a perfect 2-0-0 advantage against South Carolina all-time, the Cardinal will face a very different team than the one they knocked off in the second rounds of the 2011 and 2013 NCAA tournaments. This year, the Gamecocks have only allowed 0.41 goals per game while posting 14 shutouts. As such, Stanford will need extra efforts to break through the impermeable Gamecock defense.
The Cardinal’s prolific offense, led by ESPNW’s Soccer Player of the Year Macario, has been one of the Cardinal’s signatures this season, as the Cardinal have scored a nation-leading 3.74 goals per contest so far. The second-best scoring team, Loyola Chicago, checks in at 3.05 goal per game.
As usual, Stanford will also need to produce a strong defensive performance to pull off the win, especially containing the Gamecock’s Savannah McCaskill, who lead her team with eight goals and nine assists over the season. This matchup with junior Alanna Cook, Davidson and keeper Alison Jahansouz will be an interesting one. So far this season, the defensive duo of Cook and Davidson has complemented each other really well.
“Tierna [Davidson] is great at reading the game. Her distribution of the ball is very good, her heading ability is strong,” head coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “[Cook brings] composure. She closes down spaces really well. She’s a strong, tough player, and a hard-tackling defender.”
Overall, Stanford needs the whole roster to be game-ready in order to reach its first NCAA title since 2011.
The game will start at 2p.m. and will be available on ESPNU.
Contact Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’ stanford.edu.