Nogueira
SU

STANFORD, Calif. -- The 6-0 result was so familiar to those who have followed the success of Stanford in recent years. But the Cardinal’s rout of No. 23 Georgetown had a different feel as well.

Thus far, and in the coming weeks, the Cardinal has looked like a team in a stage of development. Granted, its baseline has been high, coming off a national championship and with many key players returning. But the Cardinal has undoubtedly been a work in progress.

On Sunday, the potential of that progress was evident for all to see as the Cardinal wrapped up the title in the four-team 18th annual Stanford Nike Invitational.

"[Sunday] things started to click,” Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “And you saw what we’re capable of doing.”

Senior captain Mariah Nogueira headed in two goals to lead No. 5 Stanford (4-1-1), which scored four times off set pieces, including three off corner kicks.

Nogueira’s header off Rachel Quon’s free kick in the 12th minute sparked a Stanford run of three goals in 22 minutes. And the Cardinal followed in the second half with another flurry, with three goals in 17 minutes.

Ratcliffe has used several player combinations this season, but one he has wanted to see more has been Lo’eau LaBonta. The sophomore midfielder has had to overcome nagging injuries and regain fitness. But now she appears to be ready. She earned her first start Friday, in a 1-0 victory against Boston University, and scored her first collegiate goal Sunday.

LaBonta took advantage of two fine plays by teammates to give Stanford a 2-0 lead. Natalie Griffen spun around a defender to send a pass toward the top of the box, and Alex Doll flicked it forward with her head directly to the feet of LaBonta, who beat goalkeeper Emma Newins one on one in the box.

Besides her goal, LaBonta helped keep the Stanford offense, which also featured the first career start for sophomore forward Haley Rosen, moving gracefully.

“I’ve been saying this all along, Lo is an amazing player,” Ratcliffe said. “She’s a playmaker, she makes intelligent decisions. She can score goals. She can come in and make a big impact on this squad.”

Five different players scored, including Alina Garciamendez, Nogueira, and Sydney Payne on headers off corner kicks. Natalie Griffen scored off a rebound and now shares the team lead in goals with Nogueira, with four apiece.

“We kept the ball for such a long period of time that we were able to wear Georgetown down a bit,” Ratcliffe said. “And that possession led to a lot of great opportunities to score.”

Georgetown (6-1-1) entered the match unbeaten and having outscored its opponents 17-3. But Stanford kept the pressure up defensively, forcing turnovers, dominating possession, and attacking often. The Cardinal outshot Georgetown 22-4 and forced eight saves from Hoya goalkeepers.

Stanford went 2-0 to win the 18th annual tournament to edge Santa Clara (1-0-1), which beat visiting Boston University 1-0 in the other contest Sunday.