Stanford Tops Rutgers, 1-0

Sept. 8, 2006

Piscataway, NJ - The Stanford women's soccer team blanked its third straight opponent tonight, topping the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on their home turf, 1-0. A goal by freshman Ali Riley in the 16th minute lifted the Cardinal to victory, and improved the team to 3-2 on the season. The Scarlet Knights were handed their first loss of the year and fall to 3-1.

Stanford wasted no time challenging the Rutgers defense, as the team earned a corner kick in the seventh minute that was followed but a pair of shots by Shari Summers and Marisa Abegg. Minutes later, freshman Alicia Jenkins stole the ball near midfield and played it to sophomore Hillary Heath. Heath sent the ball to Riley, who dribbled past the Scarlet Knight defense and sent a drive past goalkeeper Erin Guthrie. The goal was the first of Riley's career and the third this season by a Cardinal freshman.

'Alicia did really good work getting the ball,' said Riley. 'She passed it to Hillary who passed it to me and I dribbled in and shot from 12 yards out. It felt great to get my first goal. I'm happy we won, but we still have a lot to work on. It's just going to get better from here.'

Stanford continued to put pressure on the Scarlet Knight defense throughout the first half, as the Cardinal dominated the possession and held the home team without a shot. Rutgers' best chance was a cross off of free kick in the 38th minute that was snatched out of the air by Cardinal goalkeeper Alex Gamble before the Scarlet Knights could get a shot off. Two more Cardinal attempts went wide before halftime, and Stanford went into the break with a 1-0 advantage.

Rutgers looked strong in the opening minutes of the second half, as the team began the period with three unanswered shots. Riley had a breakaway and another shot on frame in the 68th minute, but a Guthrie save denied the freshman her second goal of the night. In the 79th minute, the Stanford offense tested the Scarlet Knights once again, with four shots in a three-minute span. Freshman Kelley O'Hara, who was making her first appearance for the Cardinal after returning from the U-20 World Cup, took her first three career shots in the offensive push, but was unable to net the insurance goal.

In the 88th minute, the Scarlet Knights made a final attempt at the equalizer, but the shot by Ashley Lunemann hit the crossbar and Stanford held on for its third consecutive shutout. Abegg, senior Rachel Buehler and sophomore Allison Falk led the Stanford back line and, for the second straight game, denied their opponent a single shot on goal.

The Cardinal finished with 10 shots to the Scarlet Knights' four. Riley and O'Hara led Stanford with three shots apiece.

'We dominated the first half and had some great chances,' said Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe. 'In the second half, we started to fall apart but we pulled it back together and came out with the win. We need to work on finishing our chances. When we do that, we'll be putting games away a lot earlier. The pieces are starting to come together though. We're happy to get a win.'

Stanford returns to the field on Sunday, when the team will face the Long Island Blackbirds in a neutral site match at Rutgers. Kickoff is scheduled for noon (ET).

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