Sept. 26, 2010

STANFORD, Calif. -

Courtesy of Stanford Athletics

No. 2 Stanford earned a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Portland on Saturday night in nonconference women's soccer action at soldout Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.

Stanford scored two goals within a 15-minute span to take a 2-0 lead during a first half that was as close to flawless soccer as the Cardinal has played all season. The fact that Press broke Stanford's career scoring record during that time seemed only fitting.

With her 153rd point (two for a goal, one for an assist), Christen Press broke the mark of 152 established by Sarah Rafanelli from 1990-93.

"I've been saying all along, Christen Press is an incredible player," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "The goal she scored was fantastic. The whole season and her whole career, she's been amazing. She deserves it and I'm really proud of her."

With a national-leading 13 goals this season, Press now is within one of another Rafanelli record, this one for goals (59). She also needs only three assists to reach Marcie Ward's school record of 40.

"It's a big honor," Press said of her points mark. "But we're just playing the game to win, any way shape or form." A cracker of a goal by Mariah Nogueira opened the scoring for Stanford (8-0-2) in the 21st minute. First, Nogueira intercepted a pass deep in Portland's own end and then fired a scorching 25-yard shot that soared over goalkeeper Hailee DeYoung and dipped just under the crossbar.

Press made it 2-0 when she took a pass from Teresa Noyola wide of the penalty area and cut inside, chipping a left-footed shot inside the far post in the 36th minute. The goal stood, even after Portland's Danielle Foxhoven rebounded her own blocked shot to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 80th minute.

Before a crowd of 1,376 (all 1,500 tickets were sold), Stanford outshot Portland, 11-1, in the first half -- and 17-6 in the match -- while controlling play and possession. Keep in mind that the Pilots (10-1) came in with the best record in the country.

However, Portland changed the momentum in the second half, applying high pressure and forcing Stanford into a mistake when goalkeeper Emily Oliver took a back pass and hit a teammate on her clearing attempt. The Pilots took advantage to set up the scoring sequence.

"Our first-half performance was incredible," Ratcliffe said. "Second half, I wasn't as pleased with the team. I thought we could have finished the game better."

Central defender Alina Garciamendez, who plays a vital role in establishing the tempo and beginning the team's buildup, said, "I feel we're almost where we want to be. The first half was a glimpse of how we should be playing and what we're capable of."

Said Press, "I think that was one of the first times we've really been able to dominate a game against a top opponent. Good soccer won us the game."

And it could bring Stanford back to the top of the national rankings. After No. 1 North Carolina lost to No. 4 Boston College, 3-2, on Thursday, the feeling was that the top ranking would go to the Stanford-Portland winner, when the NSCAA coaches' poll is released on Tuesday.

"It's not something we worry about, but it's something that we strive for," said Press. "We know it's a possibility. It's a motivator more than anything."

Stanford faces a ranked opponent for the seventh time, and concludes its nonconference season, when it plays host to No. 10 Santa Clara on Sunday, Oct. 3, at 1 p.m. in a rematch of the Cardinal's 1-0 victory in the third round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Meanwhile, much of the team will be headed to Hayward on Sunday morning for the Women's Professional Soccer final between FC Gold Pride and the Philadelphia Independence.

There are five former Stanford players on the rosters of both teams -- Nicole Barnhart, Rachel Buehler, Kelley O'Hara, and Ali Riley of the Gold Pride, and Allison Falk of the Independence. No other school comes close to that representation.