STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford’s match-up against Santa Clara started slow, but the second half packed a punch.
That’s when top-ranked Stanford shot six goals in 21 minutes to win what became a 6-1 season-opener against No. 17 Santa Clara.
Before a sellout crowd of 2,084 at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium, Stanford’s Mariah Nogueira tied the score less than two minutes into the second half and the Cardinal took the lead only 2:16 later to begin the take over.
Nogueira’s goal was the key, head coach Paul Ratcliffe said, of what became the 400th victory in the program’s 29 years of existance. It was also Stanford’s seventh consecutive victory in the South Bay derby, by a combined score of 24-3.
“Up front, we were a little hesitant,” Ratcliffe said. “We just needed more creativity from the forwards. I told them I thought we were playing well – Santa Clara scored against the run of play – but we had to be more dynamic.”
Seeking to make more diagonal and overlapping runs, and to create more confusion in the Santa Clara defense, Stanford emerged with a fresh approach. And it was almost immediately rewarded when Nogueira nodded in Courtney Verloo’s corner kick at 46:55.
Shortly after, it was Rachel Quon who swooped into the box on a deep run from her outside back position to knock in a loose ball.
Sydney Payne, Alina Garciamendez and junior Natalie Griffen all scored. Griffin , a junior, scored twice and had an assist in her first collegiate start.
“The goal that Mariah scored gave us a lift,” Ratcliffe said. “Our confidence levels went up and you saw what we were capable of doing.”
Santa Clara opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Sarah Jackson took a throw-in and weaved up the right sideline to feed Olivia Klei for a half-volley. Stanford controlled much of the possession, but had no strong chances to show for it. But that changed in the second half, when Stanford outshot Santa Clara 15-3.
Verloo, in her first match at forward in three years, didn’t score, but played a role in each of the first three goals. Besides supplying the corner on Nogueira’s header, Verloo sent in the ball that led to Quon’s score and dummied a pass on Payne’s goal for a 3-1 lead.
Griffen needed to make some kind of impact, and did so with a 30-yarder in the 64th minute. Then, she struck another, this time from 15 yards to equal her career scoring total in a four-minute span.
With that, Stanford’s 51st consecutive home victory – the Cardinal hasn’t lost at Cagan Stadium since 2007 – and 22nd consecutive triumph overall was essentially complete.