“Jordan always comes through clutch.”
No, not Michael. Head coach Paul Ratcliffe was referring to Pac-12 midfielder of the year, senior Jordan DiBiasi. Her header was all that Stanford (20-0-2, 10-0-1 Pac-12) needed to take down the Badgers (14-4-4, 6-2-3 Big Ten) in the third round of the College Cup.
In the 37th minute, redshirt junior midfielder Jaye Boissiere sent a towering cross into the box for DiBiasi, who made the most of it. “We have really good chemistry,” said DiBiasi on her partnership with Boissiere. “We’ve played together for four years now. As soon as she got it, I knew she was looking for it. I just wanted to get to the right spot. I know where she likes to play it, and I just wanted to get into that area.”
“Fantastic header to break the ice and get us that all important goal,” said Ratcliffe. “Jordan, senior leader for us, I’m so happy for her, and she’s been amazing her whole career at Stanford.” The goal was DiBiasi’s 10th of the season and the 15th game winning goal of her career. DiBiasi recreated her performance from last year in the third round, when she buried Florida State with a similar 1-0 scoring line.
This year’s opponent was able to stifle the Stanford attack for much of the day. While the Cardinal dominated possession throughout, the incisive penetration that has created opportunities throughout the year were hard to come by. “Wisconsin was very organized, they made it difficult on us to break through and get clear chances,” said Ratcliffe. “That’s why it was a tight game.”
“It was obviously a tough game,” added DiBiasi. “Wisconsin is a really good team, they have a really strong mentality, and we knew that coming into the game.
“We just wanted to match that mentality while still playing our soccer,” she said. “I think especially in the first half we were successful with that, and that’s when we got the goal.” Including that goal, Stanford pelted six shots before the Badgers were able to test senior keeper Alison Jahansouz late in the first half.
“The fact that we were playing the number one team in the nation, honestly, didn’t matter,” said Wisconsin defender Grace Douglas. “At the end of the day it was about the atmosphere.” On a smoky Sunday afternoon, 1,305 fans packed into Laird Q. Cagan Stadium. “They have a gorgeous stadium,” continued Douglas. “Loud fans, but our fans were there too.”
Boissiere, sitting deep in the defensive midfield role, was marking Wisconsin’s lone All-Big Ten first team selection, Victoria Pickett. The captain DiBiasi was effusive in her praise of Boissiere. “I can’t speak highly enough about J-Boss – that’s what we call her,” DiBiasi said. “She’s such a special player, as an attacking force and also defensively. She’s our bunker and tank in defending in the midfield.”
Up by a goal at halftime and dominating possession, Stanford made few adjustments. “Knowing we were up 1-0, going into the second half, we wanted to play smart but still attack,” said DiBiasi.
Sophomore forward Catarina Macario did just that, intercepting the Badgers pass off of the restart. While her shot went just wide, she set the tone for a contentious second half.
The Badgers, however, were not ready to roll over. Their three shots in the second period matched the Cardinal’s output.
For much of the second half, Stanford’s main tactic was time wasting. At one point, Macario was shown a yellow card by the referee for stalling. On many other occasions, a Stanford player made their way to the corner flag to eat away a few precious seconds. “At the end of the day we scared Stanford right into the corner,” said Douglas. “I hope they’re ready for us next year.”
Jahansouz was in net all game for the Cardinal for her 10th shutout of the season and the team’s 12th. She saved both of Wisconsin’s two shots on goal. The Badgers’ best opportunity came on the last play of the game, when, with the countdown at five, Dani Rhodes teed up a shot that went just wide.
“We needed to score another goal,” said Paul Ratcliffe. “At the end, anything can happen, and they’re feeding off that. We talked about that at the end of the game: It’s a journey to try to get to our goal of a championship and you have to learn from these types of games, because there’s going to be pressure as we move forward.”
After the game, Wisconsin head coach Paula Wilkins reflected on the season. “I’m proud of them. Every player, whether they played every minute or no minutes, really made this program and this team the way it was.”
Stanford will advance to face Tennessee (16-2-3, 7-2-1 SEC) on Friday at 2 p.m. in front of the Cardinal faithful with a berth to the semifinals in Cary, North Carolina on the line.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.