After a successful regular season, No. 1 Stanford women’s soccer (17-0-2, 10-0-1 Pac-12) begins postseason play tonight against Seattle (10-7-3, 6-1-1 WAC).
Entering the NCAA tournament for the 21st season in a row, the Cardinal are six wins away from defending the national title they won against UCLA on Dec. 3, 2017. Stanford capped last year’s 24-1 season with a dramatic 3-2 win with redshirt junior Jaye Boissiere launching the game-winner in the 67th minute.
For the third straight season, the Cardinal enter the tournament ranked first nationally. The team knows better than anyone that this means nothing once the games begin. While last year’s squad hoisted the trophy in the end, the 2016 team’s season ended in disappointment with a double overtime loss to Santa Clara in the second round. At this point of the season, there is little margin for error.
One benefit of being ranked first in the tournament is the Cardinal will have home field advantage until the College Cup, assuming they keep winning. This is especially relevant considering Stanford has won 25 straight home games.
The Cardinal enter the tournament after winning the Pac-12 title for the fourth consecutive year. In the final weekend of play, the team beat California 2-0 and Arizona State 4-1. Senior midfielder Jordan DiBiasi led the way in both games, tallying two goals in each match. DiBiasi sits seventh in the Pac-12 with 26 points on the season.
Coming to the Farm this weekend is Seattle University, who won the WAC tournament to receive the conference’s automatic bid to postseason play. The Redhawks beat University of Missouri, Kansas City 1-0 to capture the title. After a shaky start to the season, they have not lost since Sept. 30 when they were defeated by Grand Canyon. They played two Pac-12 schools during the season, losing to both Washington and Washington State. For what it’s worth, Stanford beat Washington and tied with Washington State.
The Redhawks are led by junior forward Jessie Ray, who is the team leader in points (23), goals (eight) and assists (seven). Freshman Ariana Romero guards the goal and has allowed an average of 0.88 goals a game this season.
Stanford is averaging 2.68 goals per game, ranking second in the country. A big part of this scoring power comes from sophomore forward Catarina Macario, who leads the team with 12 goals and 29 points. Her recent goal against Washington State was featured as number four on ESPN SportsCenter’s nightly top 10 plays.
Defensively, redshirt senior keeper Alison Jahansouz stands watch for the Cardinal. This season she is allowing only 0.46 goals a game.
The winner of Friday’s match is set to play the winner of Clemson and Ole Miss next weekend. Tennessee, Texas A&M and Boston College join Stanford as the top four teams in Stanford’s side of the bracket. The College Cup is scheduled to conclude on Dec. 2 in Cary, North Carolina.
The Cardinal’s quest to defend their NCAA title begins tonight at Cagan Stadium. Kick off will be at 7 p.m. PST.
Contact Jake Stuebner at jstuebs ‘at’ stanford.edu.