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From Cagan to Cary: Women’s soccer reaches NCAA semifinals

No. 1 Stanford takes down No. 2 Tennessee with a dominating shutout

Senior goalkeeper Alison Jahansouz (above) played her final game at Cagan Stadium to take down the Tennessee Volunteers. She had a remarkable save on a penalty kick to keep the Cardinal on a shutout. (AL CHANG/isiphotos.com)

No. 1 seed Stanford women’s soccer (21-0-2, 10-0-1 Pac-12) punched their ticket to the College Cup in North Carolina with a 2-0 shutout of No. 2 Tennessee (16-3-3, 7-2-1 SEC) in the quarterfinals.

After the final whistle, the bench sprinted over to the redshirt senior keeper Alison Jahansouz to celebrate her final game in Cagan Stadium. Sophomore forwards Civana Kuhlmann and Catarina Macario tallied the goals, but Jahansouz had the moment of the game in the 78th minute after a handling call gifted Tennessee with a penalty kick.

Katie Cousins stepped up to take the kick for the Volunteers. “She played right into my hands, so to speak,” said Jahansouz. “The penalty is always in favor of the kicker, no matter how much you look at it. For me, it’s not much of a high-pressure situation. I just put myself in the best position possible to make a save.”

“Obviously, [when] you get that penalty with whatever that was — 12, 13, 14 — minutes left, you think now all of a sudden you can get it to 2-1,” said Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky. “Katie Cousins has to forget that because we’ve all forgotten.”

Cousins had converted on two of her three penalty kick attempts on the season before Jahansouz guessed correctly and protected her 11th shutout of the season. The Stanford bench erupted in cheers, as did the stands of Cagan Stadium, which were packed despite the pouring rain. Jahansouz had an outstanding performance overall, saving a career-high six shots.

Jahansouz also had numerous brilliant saves confronting SEC offensive player of the year, Bunny Shaw, one on one. Shaw netted 13 goals in 14 games but was unable to beat the Stanford keeper.

Head coach Paul Ratcliffe was overjoyed with the play of his keeper. “A.J. came up huge,” he said. “Momentum could have swung there, and it could have been a hard last 10 minutes.” Instead, Stanford was able to retain possession and close out the final ticks on the countdown to the final four.

Although the weather did not affect the fans, the slick playing surface and the high line of the Volunteers forced the Cardinal into a more direct style of play than usual. The back and forth found the two sides deadlocked at four shots apiece early in the first half.

Stanford began to open up play, and by halftime, the separation was 16-5. The most important shot came in the 27th minute, when Macario drew a defender before slipping Kuhlmann into the box with a through pass for her program-record ninth postseason assist. Despite hitting an earlier chance into the arms of the Volunteers’ keeper Shae Yanez, Kuhlmann buried this opportunity to cement a Cardinal lead and put away her fourth goal in five games.

If Jahansouz’s penalty kick save drew the loudest cheer of the game, sophomore defender Kiki Pickett, standing at five feet tall, out-jumping Volunteers was the second. “She’s probably the toughest one on our team,” said Ratcliffe.

After the break, Stanford came out with that same high intensity, hammering shots at Yanez. The keeper made 12 saves on the night but had little chance on the Cardinal’s second goal. Redshirt junior midfielder Jaye Boissere’s pass to Macario was deflected but found her anyways. With only one defender between her and the goal, Macario slotted the ball in the far post for her 14th goal on the season.

“J. Boss was dribbling down, and I tried to open up and give her room to do her thing or make myself an option,” said Macario. “She played me the ball, and there was one girl in front. I saw a little gap in between. I tried hitting it through her legs.”

Macario had nine of the Cardinal’s 30 shots in another dominant performance. “Catarina was really dynamic out there,” Ratcliffe said. “She is amazing. She’s got magic skills. She’s so much fun to watch, I love watching her play. She’s incredible, and she makes everyone around her better. She’s the ultimate college player that you could ever coach. She’s a once-in-a-lifetime player.”

Ratcliffe was not the only coach impressed with Macario’s three-point output. Pensky added his own praise: “She’s a fantastic player… As you move along in rounds and levels and get closer to the final four, it’s the special players who make plays to win games.”

The victory was the final home game for seniors forward Averie Collins, defender Alana Cook, midfielder Jordan DiBiasi, defender Tegan McGrady and forward Michelle Xiao. Cook and DiBiasi, team captains and Pac-12 Defender and Midfielder of the year respectively, spoke forcefully during team huddles at stoppages throughout the game. This group of five seniors finished with a 50-2-4 record at Cagan Stadium.

“Especially being senior year, our last year in Cagan, there were a lot of emotions, and it was clear that we really wanted it,” said DiBiasi.

McGrady and sophomore forward Madison Haley entered as substitutes returning from injuries. “Madison Haley was tremendous,” said Ratcliffe. “It was electric when she was on the field, created so many opportunities for us. Tegan McGrady came back and had a fantastic game.” Ratcliffe is also hopeful that Tierna Davidson, who was in uniform for the first time since Sept. 9, will be fit for the College Cup.

“I think we’re really excited right now and then can be excited for a couple more hours and then get back to work,” said DiBiasi. The team has a week before its title defense continues against Florida State in the semifinals (18-2-3, 5-4-1 ACC) next Friday.

 

Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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