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Season Recap: Women’s soccer

Cardinal finish season in semi-finals after consistent No. 1 ranking

Freshman forward Sophia Smith (above) had a breakout season before being halted with an injury. She scored seven goals in the first 14 games of the season, tying her for the team best. (BOB DREBIN/isiphotos.com)

This article is part of a running series The Daily sports staff will be publishing on Stanford sports teams.

Drawing crowds to a packed Cagan Stadium even in the pouring rain, the Stanford women’s soccer team (21-1-2, 10-0-1 Pac-12) finished the 2018 season in the NCAA semi-finals.

It was redshirt senior goalkeeper Alison Jahansouz who sent the Cardinal to the semi-finals with a brilliant save on a penalty kick against the Tennessee Volunteers.

The women were one game short of competing for their second straight national title, but were beat by NCAA champions Florida State (19-4-3) with two first half goals. It was the team’s first loss since Aug. 25, 2017 against Florida. The Cardinal had been the No. 1-ranked team in every poll since the preseason and went into the semifinal tournament as the No. 1 seed with a 45-game unbeaten streak.

As the defending NCAA champions, opponents sought to defeat the impervious team. The women completed a remarkable season overall, winning the Pac-12 championship.

The team has had their fair share of adversity this past season with junior Tierna Davidson’s and freshman phenom Sophia Smith’s ankle injuries, as well as senior Michelle Xiao’s recovering broken arm.

Davidson, though she was sidelined with a fractured ankle this past season, has since won the 2018 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year and started every national team game. The No. 1 pick in this year’s NWSL Draft, Davidson departed from Stanford earlier this year, forgoing her final year of college eligibility to join the Chicago Red Stars as a defender. Davidson also joined the USWNT on the 2019 SheBelieves Cup roster in February. It was recently revealed on May 1 that she will be joining the U.S. Women’s National Team in the eighth FIFA Women’s World Cup, set to kick off this summer in France from June 7 to July 7.

Smith had scored seven goals during the first 14 games of the season, tying her for the team lead with sophomore forward Catarina Macario, when she was carried off the field from a collision, just six yards short of scoring her eighth goal of the season.

Xiao had a compound fracture in both bones in her arm and was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery in a home game during the 2017 season. She suffered multiple surgeries over the next year as she developed complications. However, in her return to competition for the 2018 season, Xiao scored the team’s first goal of the season against UC Davis in the upper right corner of the net. Xiao would go on to become the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“[The depth is] what makes our team so special and so dangerous,” Senior midfielder Jordan DiBasi noted during the season. “There’s so many people that can contribute. There’s not eleven of us; there’s 29 of us. And it takes all 29 to do well.”

While obviously talented, the team is extremely impressive in their gritty mindsets lending themselves to serving sold-out games and racking in a multitude of awards.

Notably, Macario was named ESPN Woman of the Year, as well as Pac-12 Forward of the Year. In a dominant performance against No. 2 Tennessee in the quarterfinals this past season, Macario had nine of the Cardinal’s 30 shots.

With graduation quickly approaching, we look back on “The Mob” — Stanford women’s soccer’s impressive five graduating seniors: forward Averie Collins, defender Alana Cook, midfielder Jordan DiBiasi, defender Tegan McGrady and forward Michelle Xiao – who finished an absurd 82-6-5 over their four years on the Farm and a 50-2-4 record at Cagan Stadium.

Among the senior class are a legion of accomplishments. Cook was the Pac-12 Defender of the Year, and DiBiasi was Pac-12 Midfielder of the year. Following Davidson, DiBiasi and McGrady were both first-round picks drafted to Washington Spirit. McGrady is a full member of the United States’ Women’s National Team. Cook was called to PSG Feminine.

Cook started all 93 matches of her Stanford career at center back. Cook and her co-captain, DiBiasi, along with sophomore forward Catarina Macario, were among the 15 semifinalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy — awarded to the top player in college soccer and the highest individual intercollegiate award administered by United Soccer Coaches.

“This team has had an incredible season,” Head Coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “I’m so proud of all they’ve accomplished from start to finish.”

Contact Cate Camara at ccamara2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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