No. 3 Stanford Forces Double Overtime With No. 5 North Carolina, Draws 1-1
Sept. 12, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. - No. 3 Stanford remained undefeated this evening, drawing 1-1 with No. 5 North Carolina in double overtime in front of a crowd of 2,273, the fourth largest home attendance for a single game in Stanford women's soccer history. The Cardinal moves to 5-0-1, while the Heels go to 4-1-1.
The match proved to be quite a show for the fans, as the two evenly matched teams went at each other right from the start. In the 29th minute, Stanford almost took the lead, but a shot by freshman Lindsay Taylor was cleared off the line by the Tar Heels' Whitney Engen. A minute later though, it was the Heels who took the lead, as Tobin Heath executed a give and go with Casey Nogueira and found herself six yards in front and to the right of Cardinal sophomore goalkeeper Kira Maker. Heath then struck a ball that hit the far post and went in for her second goal of the year. North Carolina finished the half up one goal and with an 8-3 edge in shots.
'I thought that in the first half, UNC was the better team,' said head coach Paul Ratcliffe. I think we were a bit flat, that we never got in our rhythm, and didn't play our soccer.'
The goal didn't seem to rattle Stanford though, which kept the pressure on North Carolina throughout the game. The Cardinal created several quality scoring chances and out shot the Heels 7-6 in the second half, but was thwarted time and time again by UNC goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, who entered the game at half time.
'In the second half it was a much different story,' added Ratcliffe. 'We got in our rhythm, connected passes and things opened up for us.'
One of the best chances for Stanford happened in the 79th minute, when redshirt junior Lea MacKinnon and senior Ali Riley set up a beautiful cross right to an wide-open Christen Press in the penalty area. Unfortunately, Press' header sailed just wide, but the Cardinal were not finished barraging the Heels' defense. Stanford's perseverance paid off in the 87th minute, as junior Kelley O'Hara received a through ball from junior Alicia Jenkins and neatly netted the ball past Harris into the lower left corner for her third goal of the year, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
'Kelley O'Hara scored a fantastic goal and I think we really should have won the game with the chances we created,' Ratcliffe continued. 'We had a few one-v-ones and their goalkeeper came up with some big saves to save the game.'
The Cardinal carried the momentum into the first overtime, sending six shots towards the North Carolina net. Harris was forced to make two incredible saves to keep the Heels in the game in the last minute of the period as Press fired a close-range bullet on the keeper, who made the save, and then picked up her rebound to launch a similar shot. Action calmed in the second overtime, as no shots were fired and the game ended in a one-all draw.
'It was a great game for both teams,' noted Ratcliffe. 'I think a game like this hardens the team for the playoffs and it shows them what they can expect if they make it to the Final Four. This is the type of team you meet there, they're a strong team. It's a good experience, but we're still disappointed we didn't win. We feel like we should have won the game. Overall I was pleased, and it was great to have such a fantastic crowd. It was a wonderful game for them to watch and I hope a lot of people went home with a smile on their face.'
Stanford will next face UNC Greensboro, who upset No. 15 Santa Clara 1-0 in this today's first match of the tournament, at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday in the finale of the Stanford/Nike Invitational.