Cardinal Heads to Sweet Sixteen with a Win over USC

Nov. 12, 2006

Santa Clara, Calif. - The Cardinal women's soccer team posted a 2-0 win over the USC Women of Troy this afternoon, and earned its first trip to the NCAA Third Round since 2002. Freshman Kelley O'Hara netted her eighth and ninth goals of the year, and led the Cardinal to its 14th all-time postseason victory. Stanford improves to 15-6-1 with the win, while the Trojans fall to 11-5-5.

Two teams known for their domination on defense, boasting a combined 27 shutouts on the year, struggled to put together legitimate offensive threats early in the first half. In the first 20 minutes of action, the Cardinal and Trojans held each other to a single shot.

The Trojans came up with the first scoring opportunity of the match at the 20:08 mark. A cross from the right side got through the Stanford defense and found Tracy Lansing on the far side. Lansing cracked a shot at an onrushing Erica Holland, but the Cardinal goalkeeper trapped it to make the save.

The near-goal set in motion a Cardinal rally, as the team answered just over minute later. Stanford worked the ball down field and Lea MacKinnon lofted a cross from the right wing. The ball found O'Hara on the far side, who collected it and drilled in back across the net past USC goalkeeper Veronica Simonton. The goal, scored just minutes after O'Hara entered the game, was the eighth of the season for the freshman. MacKinnon's assist was her team-leading seventh of the season.

The first half continued to be a battle of defense, however, and both teams allowed its opponent just one more close call before halftime.

With just under 10 minutes to play, USC threatened when a well-placed cross was sent to the middle, but a diving Holland intercepted the ball before the Trojans could get a shot off. Minutes later, O'Hara beat the USC defense in the middle, pulling Simonton out of the net. O'Hara crossed the ball to Ali Riley, who drilled a high shot at a net manned only by sophomore defender Meagan Holmes. Holmes got a head on the shot, and knocked it over the crossbar.

Stanford finished the first half with four shots to the Trojans two, and a 1-0 lead.

In the opening minutes of the second half, MacKinnon and O'Hara nearly teamed up for another goal. MacKinnon sent a cross into the freshman, who met Simonton and attempted to slip a pass backwards, but the ball was intercepted by the Trojan defense.

O'Hara found the back of the net a second time in the 70th minute, giving the Cardinal an insurance goal. On a counter-attack, Riley broke down the right side to create a two-on-one situation with O'Hara and Simonton. Riley forced the USC goalkeeper to commit and shuffled the ball to O'Hara, who one-touched it into the open net for her ninth goal of the year.

USC continued to pepper the Cardinal with shots in the final minutes, however, sending 11 in the direction of the Stanford goal in the final 18 minutes of play. Holland made a series of diving saves and deflected two-straight attempts over the crossbar in the 86th minute. The Cardinal defense stayed strong, however, denying a pair of last minute corner kick opportunities, and held on for its 14th shutout of the year.

Holland finished with a season-high seven saves, while O'Hara led the team with three shots. The Cardinal was out-shot for just the fourth time in 22 games, 15-7.

Stanford advances to the NCAA Third Round and will face Clemson next weekend at a site and time to be determined.

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