PALO ALTO, Calif. – In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Santa Clara women's soccer beat No. 2 Stanford, the top seed in the bracket, 1-0 in double overtime Friday night to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013.
Melissa Lowder withstood 31 shots from the Stanford (18-2-1) offense to keep the game scoreless and give Santa Clara (11-6-4) a chance to come away with the upset.
The game-winner came in the 108th minute on the first of the year from Jenna Holtz. Natalie Kennedy sent a ball across the field to Holtz who was alone in the box. She controlled the pass and finished far post after a deflection off a defender to give Santa Clara the victory. It was just the third shot on goal of the night for the Broncos.
"I'm very proud of my team today," Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith said. "I thought they had a very disciplined effort. It wasn't going to take a perfect plan to win, but we had to limit the number of mistakes and we were able to do that. They followed the game plan perfectly. We knew Stanford would have more possession than us and that they would probably outshoot us, but the objective was try to find a way to win the game and we did that."
Lowder made a career-high 14 saves against a potent Cardinal offense that had only been shut out one other time this season.
"Melissa was amazing," Smith said. "The quality of shots she faced were tremendous. They were hit with pace and had movement on them. We knew part of what it would take to win was amazing goalkeeping. She was rock-solid today and made so many saves for us. She kept us in the game the entire night."
Stanford was in control of the ball for the vast majority of the action. The Cardinal attempted 31 shots and put 14 on goal to just seven and three, respectively, for the Broncos but Santa Clara was never fazed after preparing for it during the week.
"We had a game plan that we knew would work well," Smith said. "Monday morning we felt very good about this game and felt good all week. The game plan was very specific and they followed it to a tee. We wrote it up just the way it unfolded."
This was the 16th straight overtime match for Santa Clara without a loss. The Broncos are 10-0-6 in those games.
"We couldn't have been more confident in overtime," Smith said. "The pressure grows on the favored team a little in overtime. Our team knows that we're going to be a tough out in overtime. We were never comfortable but we were always confident."
This is the first win for Santa Clara over Stanford in the NCAA Tournament since 2004. The Broncos beat the Cardinal 1-0 in double overtime in the second round in Santa Clara. They had never won in Palo Alto against Stanford in the NCAA Tournament.
"We want to congratulate Stanford on an amazing year," Smith said. "We have great respect for them. Their coaching staff is outstanding and they have a great team. To beat them in the NCAA Tournament on their home field is not an easy thing to do. We've had a lot of great wins at Santa Clara but this ranks right up there as one of the best."
The Broncos return to the field Sunday at 1 p.m. vs. NC State in the Sweet 16.
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