No. 2 Stanford Edges Saint Mary's

Sept. 27, 2009

MORAGA, Calif. - The No. 2 Stanford women's soccer team closed within one victory of its best-ever start, thanks to a 59th minute goal by Christen Press that gave the Cardinal a 1-0 victory over Saint Mary's on Sunday afternoon in a match in which the temperature reached 100 degrees.

Press worked a one-two combination with Kelley O'Hara before slotting an open 14-yard low shot inside the right post. It was the eighth goal of the season for the sophomore forward who also hit the crossbar and the post on other shots.

Stanford (10-0-0), ranked No. 2 in the NSCAA coaches' poll and No. 1 in three others, earned its fourth consecutive shutout and extended its scoreless string to 446:32 minutes. Stanford, however, required a diving two-handed punch save by goalkeeper Kira Maker on a hard left-footed shot by Alex Ciliento after a cutback move that would have given the Gaels (5-5-0) a second-half lead. Maker pushed the ball wide of the post.

'It's just a matter of staying engaged, being connected with the defense and making sure you're in the game, even when you're not being pressured,' Maker said of being ready for a shot despite relative inactivity. 'The mistakes our defense makes are few, so it's not often I have to deal with that.'

Maker matched her season high with three saves, and the Gaels' nine shots also matched the most Stanford has allowed all season.

'I thought we were really flat in the first in the first half,' said Stanford's Paul Ratcliffe, who earned his 150th collegiate career victory at the school where he coached for five years. 'That kind of set the tone for the game. The second half was a lot better and we showed better character.

'We have to have the right mentality. I thought Saint Mary's had the right mentality and played very hard. We have to realize going into games that we have to put 100 percent into it.'

Press was tireless, breaking down the defense with skillful moves or pure speed, or both. Her second-half rocket off the crossbar was set up by O'Hara's heel flick, and another shot was saved by goalkeeper Tara Larson and deflected off the right post.

The goal was a reverse of a combination last week when O'Hara took the wall pass from Press against Wisconsin.

'I've played with her for three years now,' said Press, who is tied with O'Hara for the team scoring lead with 25 points. 'We really do know each other. We know our runs in the box and where we'll be.'

Stanford had trouble establishing the tempo in the first half, largely because Saint Mary's did a good job of disrupting the Cardinal's possession game. Consequently, Stanford was unable to build attacks to its liking and the timing seemed off.

Reserves Morgan Redman, Courtney Verloo and Kristin Stannard helped to increase the pace. With increased pressure, Stanford was able to force the Gaels into mistakes.

But the first-half breakthrough never came. An early one-touch, back-to-goal shot by Lindsay Taylor spun toward the net, but Larson recovered to make the save.

Later, Ali Riley made an overlapping run from her left outside back spot, beat a defender to the ball for a cross that Redman was unable to control and O'Hara was unable to strike well, resulting in an easy save.

The 0-0 halftime score was not unusual for Stanford, which had previously gone through a stretch of six matches when it trailed or was tied at halftime, but won each one. Stanford has scored 26 of its 34 goals in the second half and has outscored opponents, 26-4 in the final 45 minutes.

Stanford suffered a blow when right outside back Camille Levin was red-carded after a collision with the Gaels' Caroline Shevlin in the 74th minute, on a call that Ratcliffe disputed, believing that Levin reached the ball first.

He moved midfielder Allison McCann into the right back spot and was able to fight off Saint Mary's despite playing down a player for the final 16 minutes. Levin must sit out Stanford's next match, a showdown at No. 9 Santa Clara (8-3-0) on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Ratcliffe is unsure who will play the spot against Santa Clara, perhaps Rachel Quon, who started the first eight matches there, but has been away from the team for more than a week because of a family matter.

The Santa Clara match will conclude Stanford's nonconference season.

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