By Niles Egan
No. 2 women’s soccer (15-1, 8-0 Pac-12) will take on conference opponent Arizona State (6-8-3, 0-6-2 Pac-12) at home on Thursday. Entering this Halloween matchup, the Cardinal are the only Pac-12 team that remains undefeated in conference play.
Stanford is coming off a very successful road trip in which the team stomped over Utah and Colorado, defeating both teams 4-0. With a win on Thursday, the Cardinal would clinch its fifth-straight Pac-12 championship, gaining automatic entry into the NCAA tournament.
Offense has been Stanford’s strength this year, particularly in recent games. Since its only loss at Pepperdine on Sept. 13, the Cardinal have won their past 10 games by a combined goal differential of 33-4. Stanford leads the entire NCAA in nearly every offensive category. They dominate when it comes to points per game, with 11.31. The team with the second highest average, BYU, only has 9.75. The Cardinal also boast 10.94 shots on goal per game and score 3.69 goals per game, having tallied 59 goals.
Junior forward Catarina Macario has scored 20 of those goals. She leads the NCAA in goals scored with that total. Macario can be expected to play a significant role in continuing to make the Stanford offense thrive against the Sun Devils on Thursday. Of the Cardinal’s 16 games thus far, she has scored at least one goal in 12 matches. Macario is certainly an all-around offensive force to be reckoned with. She has won Pac-12 offensive player of the week three times and also leads Stanford with 13 assists.
The Sun Devils will likely be challenged by the Cardinal’s powerful offense. Arizona State’s defense allows an average of 1.53 goals per game. This pales in comparison to Stanford’s own defense, which allows one goal fewer each game, with opponents averaging 0.5 goals each game against the Cardinal. Opponents have only scored eight goals total against Stanford.
A large amount of credit for the Cardinal’s stalwart defense can be attributed to Stanford’s goalkeeping. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Katie Meyer and senior goalkeeper Lauren Rood have both played very well. The two keepers have split most games, although Meyer has started the last five. In her nine appearances, she has only permitted a single goal.
Stanford will play against Arizona State at 5 p.m. on Thursday at Cagan Stadium.
Contact Niles Egan at negan ‘at’ stanford.edu.