STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 11 Santa Clara women's soccer team saw their season come to an end tonight in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to top-ranked Stanford 1-0 on The Farm. The Broncos did not go down without a fight though, as they gave the nation's best team much to handle defensively and competed until the final whistle.
The Cardinal scored the game's only goal late in the first half, but play was fairly even for all 90 minutes. The wet and fast field dictated much of the action, as did the sold-out, night-game environment.
Stanford utilized their speed up top and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in shots, but forced sophomore goalie Bianca Henninger to make only one save; coming on Kelley O'Hara's shot from the right side.
The intensity and physicality of both sides was also apparent from the start, as there was 11 fouls in just the first 15 minutes of the contest and a caution was issued to sophomore Jenny LaPonte in the 19th minute.
Henninger made a save Lindsay Taylor's attempt on the restart after the caution, and for the next four minutes Santa Clara went on the offensive, firing off three shots, two of which were saved by Cardinal goalkeeper Kira Maker.
Stanford got the first and only corner kick of the half with nine-and-a-half minutes to go but nothing came of the restart.
Then, with 6:19 to go in the half, the Cardinal broke the tie. A free kick by Teresa Noyola with went to the right of the wall. Henninger tipped it, saving the initial attempt, but it hit the crossbar and dropped over the goal line.
The excitement wasn't done for the half though, as redshirt senior Jordan Angeli had an attempt on goal from a free kick with 3:45 left to go in the half. The Lakewood, Colo. native chose to hit a low, skipping ball on the wet turf, but Maker got her body behind the shot and smothered it into safety.
The half ended with Stanford leading 14-4 in shots and Stanford out-fouling the Broncos 13-7. Henninger finished the half with five saves.
With 31:10 to go in the game, the Cardinal botched a chance to make it 2-0, Ali Riley drew Henninger out of the goal and crossed a low ball to a wide open Christen Press, but Press' one-timer sailed high of the empty net.
In the 76th minute, O'Hara almost earned an insurance goal, but a valiant effort by senior Kiki Bosio to make the clearance off the line kept the game at 1-0.
With ten-and-a-half minutes to go, senior Katherine Reynolds sent a ball into the box looking for the head of Angeli, but Maker got to the ball first to deny the scoring chance.
The Broncos nearly tied it to force overtime with just 3:10 to go, but Maker made the save of the game, throwing her body into the side netting to keep senior Amanda Poach's lobbing shot out of the right upper-90 of the goal and earn the win for Stanford
Santa Clara posted eight shots in the game, four in each period, and held the Cardinal's high-scoring offense to only six shots in the second half. Henninger finished with six saves, while Maker had three.
Santa Clara finishes the season at 14-7-2, The Cardinal move on to the NCAA Quarterfinals and will take on Boston College for the right to move on to the College Cup.