STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 19 Santa Clara women's soccer team saw its season come to an end today, falling 2-1 to No. 1 Stanford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium. Senior Kendra Perry scored the Broncos' lone goal in the 74th minute in a late push to tie the game, but SCU couldn't overcome the nation's top team, ending the season with a 13-7-2 overall record (4-3-0 WCC).
Santa Clara put forth a valiant effort, pushing the Cardinal for all 90 minutes of the game and nullifying the nation's leading goal-scorer, Christen Press, but in the end couldn't stop Stanford's secondary scoring.
The Broncos deaprted from their usual defensive game plan in the match. Senior Maxine Goynes was moved into the defense and tasked with man-marking Press. Junior Margueritte Aozasa moved out of center back and also man-marked a player, Teresa Noyola. In Aozasa's absence, senior Amanda Poach took center back responsibilities.
Both Goynes and Aozasa prevailed in their duties, preventing both Press and Noyola from recording a point in the game. However, the depth of the Cardinal roster took over.
Marjani Hing-Glover put Stanford on the board with the game's first goal, knocking the ball in with a left-footed full-volley off a feed from Annie Case from the left flank. Hing-Glover had to jump into the air with a defender on her back to get a foot on the ball, putting it in from about 12 yards out.
"Our game plan was to try to force the ball away from Rachel Quon to their left back [Annie Case]," said Smith. "Our coaches said if their left back beats us, more power to them. And she served a phenomenal ball that [Marjani Hing-Glover] scored for them. We wanted the left back to have the ball, she did and she put in a perfect cross."
With 13 minutes to play in the first half, Santa Clara had its first solid chance of the game. Sophomore Meleana Shim launched a free kick from 35 yards out, beating goalkeeper Emily Olivier, but the ball struck the crossbar and went out for a goal kick.
Stanford scored another goal with 12 minutes to play in the first half, but the goal was called back when Press was ruled offside. Press ran on to a slow-rolling back pass from the Santa Clara defense to junior goalkeeper Bianca Henninger. Henninger stuffed the attempt, but the ball squirted to Sydney Payne. Senior Lindsey Johnson was there to block Payne's shot, but the ball rolled to Press who put it in. Press was well behind the defense, resulting in the offside call.
At halftime, the score stood at 1-0 in favor of the Cardinal, who also held the edge in shots, 6-2. Henninger made three saves in the first half, while Olivier had none.
Just two minutes and 48 seconds into the second half, Henninger came up with a huge save, thwarting Allison McCann's mini-breakaway, but unfortunately for the Broncos, Stanford made it 2-0 a minute later when Lindsay Taylor's corner kick found Alina Garciamendez for the header just inside the far post.
"They scored one of their two goals in the run of play," said Smith. "Corner kicks are corner kicks. When you have a six-foot tall kid and we have a smaller kid marking her-- that's who scored. So credit to them."
With 29 minutes to go, senior Anessa Patton had a good look on goal, hitting the shot mid-turn towards the goal, but Olivier made the diving save, her only stop of the game.
Press had another goal disallowed just moments later. The offside call came after the goal, but had actually happened a few seconds before Press put the ball in the net. Noyola was the player called offside because she interfered with an opponent on the play.
Then at 73:15, the game changed. The Broncos halved the lead when freshman Ellie Rice fed senior Kendra Perry with her back to the goal. Perry spun and shot, putting the ball into the far-post side netting. The assist was Rice's first of the season and the goal was Perry's second.
The goal created a big momentum swing in favor of Santa Clara. The Broncos, in the last 15 minutes of the game, had at least six quality opportunities to score, but couldn't convert. Patton had three of those chances, but one was ruled offside, another was stopped by a swarm of Stanford defenders before she could get the shot off, and another was just high.
At the end of 90 minutes, the Cardinal went on to the 2-1 victory. Henninger made eight saves in the effort. Stanford outshot Santa Clara, 21-6.
"It's just a rough one to drop," said Henninger. "We felt like they scored two great goals—credit to them-- but we came out with a game plan and really executed it. Everyone came out and did their job. Max (Goynes) shutdown the nation's leading goal scorer... it's tough to swallow, but we leave the season with no regrets."
"We came and battled and gave it all we had," said co-captain Perry. "I think we gave Stanford the best game any team has given them all year. We weren't going to give up hope until the end of the second half. We had hope every second and all believed in one another. There was no way we were going to give up."
"They are so dynamic," said Smith. "Their off the ball movement is so good. It's really hard to keep track of their players. We had about as good of a game plan as we could have had and we still lost their players. Just when you think 'Let's eliminate Press' and she didn't score today. Someone else is going to step up in her spot. They just have so many weapons."
"That is a great Stanford team," continued Smith. "We've endured many great regular season and NCAA games with Stanford. We are destined to play Stanford at some point in the NCAA Tournament because of geography, and it's been a great rivalry. We've enjoyed the rivalry. Right now they've have the better of us, but we'll work hard to make it, if it's a rivalry, to go back and forth."
The Broncos finished their 2010 season with the program's 28th-winning season and 21st appearance in the NCAA Tournament.