Nov. 13, 2009

Courtesy of Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. – After Northern Arizona held No. 1 Stanford scoreless through the opening 55 minutes of play, Cardinal junior Christen Press scored twice in the second half to lead Stanford past NAU, 2-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament. NAU sophomore goalkeeper Tori Rocke made nine outstanding saves behind a strong defense as the underdog Lumberjacks battled the highest-scoring team in the nation in their second-ever NCAA Tournament game.

Stanford advanced to face No. 20 BYU in the second round of the College Cup on Saturday, as the Cougars topped UC Santa Barbara, 2-0, earlier Thursday in Stanford.

Stanford sophomore Lindsay Taylor had all of the offense early, attempting three shots in the opening eight minutes and forcing NAU goalkeeper Tori Rocke to make one save. In the 15th minute, Cardinal freshman Katie Finley had a break down the right side and fired a shot that Rocke stopped with a two-handed save and was able to corral the rebound.

The Cardinal continued on the attack, and in the 20th minute nearly took the lead as a lead pass by Taylor narrowly missed connecting in front of the NAU goal. The home team stayed on the NAU side of the field for most of the first half, narrowly missing on several scoring chances.

In the 30the minute, junior Christen Press dribbled around the Lumberjack defense and fired a shot from 15 yards out that was turned back on a strong save by Rocke. Seven minutes later, Rocke leaped to deflect a blast from 20 yards out from sophomore Teresa Noyola off the bottom of the crossbar and away. In the ensuing minute, Stanford hit the right post on a try and had a header attempt inside the goal mouth blocked by Northern Arizona junior Tori Rocke.

A free kick by Noyola in the 43rd minute from 25 yards hit the right post, and in the final 10 seconds of the first half junior Mordan Redman hit the crossbar on a header off a corner kick. Despite being outshot 19-3 and having Stanford hit the post four times, the Lumberjacks played the Cardinal to a scoreless first half.

Just thirty second into the second half, Rocke made another outstanding save as she dove to rob Taylor on a shot to the bottom-left.

The Cardinal finally got on the board 55th minute. A pass from O’Hara found Press 25 yards from the NAU goal, and junior fired a perfect shot to top-left corner of the goal. The ball bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and the left post before dropping into the Lumberjack goal to give Stanford a 1-0 lead.

Stanford maintained its relentless attack and found a second goal in the 67th minute. Press was robbed on a sliding save by Rocke, but the ball found O’Hara a long the end line for a cross back into the box. The ball again found Press, and her header to the bottom-left corner was deflected by Rocke but found the inside of the post to extend the Stanford lead.

The Cardinal continued to play strong defensively and maintained possession in the Lumberjacks’ half of the field for the remainder of the contest, not allowing an NAU shot for the final 81 minutes and eight seconds of the game to advance with a 2-0 win.

After the shots were even at 3-3 though the opening 14 minutes, Stanford would attempt 34 consecutive shots through the remainder of the game to hold a 37-3 shot advantage for the match. Rocke’s nine saves were a season-high while NAU did not have a shot on goal, as Cardinal junior goalkeeper Kira Maker gained the shutout.

The Lumberjacks end the season at 10-9-2, reaching the NCAA tournament for the second-consecutive year and the second time in program history. Northern Arizona will return 10 of 11 starters next season, losing only senior forward Sarah Neatherton from the starting squad.