The No. 13 Santa Clara women's soccer team (7-3-2) suffered a tough loss to No. 1 Stanford, 2-0, this afternoon at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium. The Broncos withstood the Cardinal attack for 77 minutes before the nation's leading scorer, Christen Press, headed in the game-winner.
Santa Clara was only able to register one wide shot in the game, by senior Kendra Perry, but had several dangerous crossing opportunities that went unfinished. Junior goalie Bianca Henninger played outstanding in the match, keeping the Broncos in the fold while making nine saves, several of which appeared to be sure-thing goals.
"Bianca played very well today," said head coach Jerry Smith. "She made several spectacular saves and really showed her quality in the match today."
"Our tactic in the game today was to sit in and defend our half, which puts their team in front of the goal a lot more," added Smith. "That tactic involves relying on our goalkeeper to deal with them having more shots and I thought she did a fantastic job."
Unfortunately for Henninger and the rest of the Broncos, Stanford would not be denied the entire game. Teresa Noyola combined with Rachel Quon on the left flank to serve a ball to an unchallenged Press, who headed the game's first goal without any defensive pressure at 77:26.
Just over a minute later, the Cardinal was awarded a free kick about 21 yards out from the goal. Lindsay Taylor's shot on the restart bent around the wall and knuckled on its way in. Henninger got a hand on the dipping and moving shot, but couldn't keep it out of the goal.
"There's nothing she [Henninger] could have done on the first goal," said Smith. "On the second goal what broke down was the wall. We obviously didn't set it up right place and all of us can accept responsibility for not having the wall in the right place."
"One of our goals today was to try and keep the game very tight in terms of the score and not get into an up and down game with Stanford," said Smith. "I didn't think we could get into that sort of game with them. At halftime we talked about making sure that when the ball went into wide spaces that everyone in box mark up, but late in the game that broke down and Press was wide open. Of all the people to leave wide open you can't leave the leading goal-scorer in the country wide open, it just can't happen."
"We're not a team that normally uses the tactic we used today so it was a chance for the team to grow in a certain way," added Smith. "I thought that right up until they scored; many of the shots they took were harmless. They were from distance or not on goal and part of that was our players staying true to the game plan, even if it was a very different game plan for them. It's not a typical Santa Clara performance. We are disappointed with the result obviously, and anytime we lose we're disappointed even if it is to the No. 1 team in the country, but Stanford is a quality team and they deserved win for sure, so congratulations to them. For us now it's about conference play. We played a very tough non-conference schedule, maybe one of toughest in the country, so I think that has prepared us well for WCC play. Our focus now is squarely on San Diego and getting off to 1-0 record at home against this coming weekend. We set a goal to win the WCC and today's result does nothing to deter our ability to win the conference championship."
The Broncos open conference play at Buck Shaw Stadium against the Toreros on Sunday, Oct. 10 at 1 p.m. The game will be the culmination of a weekend with several alumni events, including the resurrection of an alumni game, celebrating the 30th anniversary of varsity women's soccer at Santa Clara.