No. 23 Stanford Downs Nevada in NCAA First Round
Nov. 10, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - The Stanford women's soccer team began its postseason run tonight, with a 2-1 victory over the Nevada Wolfpack at Buck Shaw Stadium. Freshman Ali Riley and sophomore Hillary Heath each netted goals for the Cardinal, and led the team to its 13th all-time NCAA Tournament win. Stanford improves to 14-6-1 and advances to Sunday's Second Round to face USC. Nevada ends its best season in history with a 13-5-4 record.
The Cardinal came out strong in the first half, putting constant pressure on the Nevada defense. The team's first chance came in the sixth minute, with its first of five corner kick opportunities. Lea MacKinnon served the ball to Rachel Buehler, who slipped it to Kristin Stannard in the right corner. Stannard cracked a shot from close range, but the ball was blocked by a Wolfpack defender.
Nine minutes later, the Cardinal had another chance on a corner kick. Buehler tipped the serve to Stannard, but the freshman's chip sailed just high. Heath also put a shot on frame in the opening minutes, but her attempt was saved by Nevada goalkeeper Caitlin Holmes.
Senior Aivi Luik took the only shot of the first half for the Wolfpack in the 19th minute, but Cardinal goalkeeper Erica Holland was in position to make the save.
In the 25th minute, Riley put the Cardinal on the board with her fourth goal of the season. Fellow freshman Alicia Jenkins started the play, battling a Wolfpack defender to the goal. The defender attempted a clear, but Riley was there to intercept it and drilled a well-placed ball to the left corner of the net.
Stanford refused to let down the pressure, however, and put together another series of threats. Just seconds after her goal, Riley beat the Nevada defense on the right side and sent a cross to the middle. MacKinnon collected the pass and took a hard shot that was saved by Holmes. Buehler and Kelley Birch both had chances on headers before the break, but missed high.
Stanford went into halftime with a 7-1 shot advantage and a 1-0 lead.
The Cardinal continued to push for some insurance in the second half, but the Nevada defense continued to put up a fight. Jenkins had the first chance for the Cardinal on a breakaway in the 59th minute, but was taken down by the Nevada goalkeeper. The ensuing indirect free kick attempt by Shari Summers was saved by Holmes.
Riley nearly scored her second goal soon after, when she beat the Wolfpack defense on the left side. The freshman knocked a ball off of Holmes, but the Nevada goalkeeper dove on the loose ball and prevented the goal.
In the 82nd minute, the Cardinal finally sealed the win, when Heath drove home what proved to be the game-winner. April Wall sent a cross in from the right side that was juggled in the middle by the Wolfpack defense. Heath collected the ball and powered a shot past Holmes for her third goal of the season.
The Wolfpack scored on just their second shot of the match in the final minute of action. Lauren Kinneman served a ball to Jessica Wilcox on a corner kick, who sent a ball to Randee Robinson on the left side. The sophomore ricocheted the ball off of the crossbar and into the net for her third goal of the season.
Stanford out-shot Nevada 17-2, and was led by the four shots of Stannard. Holmes registered six saves for the Wolfpack.
Action continues for the Cardinal on Sunday, when the team battles Pac-10 foe USC for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara.