Senior forward Courtney Verloo figures the 17th-ranked Stanford women's soccer team has had its share of bad luck and the postseason would be the perfect time to start making some good luck for the Cardinal.
Junior Taylor Uhl scored exactly 14 minutes into Friday night's NCAA tournament opener and that was all the host Cardinal needed in a 1-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton.
Stanford (14-5-1) travels to play South Carolina at UCLA next Friday in the second round. The Gamecocks stomped Furham, 5-0, in their first-round match.
After losing more games in the past six weeks than it has in the past four years combined, Verloo senses Stanford has turned a corner.
"We have a pretty young team with nine freshmen and as unfortunate as the losses have been, we've learned a great deal from them," Verloo said. "It's been a great experience because we know how it feels and none of us want to feel that way again."
With the exception of UCLA, the Cardinal has been dominant in the other four losses. The Bruins game, which Stanford lost in overtime, was a bitter battle.
Stanford could meet the Bruins in the third round should both teams win next Friday. North Carolina could be a fourth round opponent.
"I like playing at UCLA, it's a great atmosphere," Verloo said. "But the cool thing is after playing UCLA, the team has confidence playing against the top-ranked teams. We have a new mindset and people are more fired up."
Cardinal coach Paul Ratcliffe took the 10 days following the regular season, which ended with a pair of losses, to train Stanford into its new approach.
Against the Titans, that meant a more aggressive attack, with Uhl reinserted into the starting lineup for her offensive prowess, and partnering sophomore defender Laura Liedle with freshman sensation Maddie Bauer in the backfield to help create space to the outside.
Stanford outshot the Titans, 21-6, with CSUF goalkeeper Lindsey Maricic recording 10 saves, seven in the second half and at least three on point blank shots.
"We can see the good in all the chances we got," Uhl said. "It's not a bad thing when you get near goals. I think we all got better during the 10 days before the game. I know I've improved."
Verloo began the scoring sequence with a crossing pass into the box. Uhl headed the ball and it hit the crossbar. The ball bounced to her feet and she fired home the game winner from four yards out.
"Taylor made a great effort," Verloo said. "She's phenomenal in the air and was sharp enough to get the rebound. She's confident playing in the box."
It was Uhl's team-leading 11th goal. She led the nation in scoring as a sophomore at Minnesota last year.
"West coast soccer is possession-oriented," she said. "I wasn't used to that mindset. I'm playing more often with my back to the goal and I'm holding the ball more than I am used to doing. I feel like I belong here and it's an amazing team."
Chiney Ogwumike scored a career-high 36 points, Mikaela Ruef grabbed a career-best 14 rebounds and matched her career high with seven assists as No. 3 Stanford earned a 86-51 nonconference victory over Cal Poly on Friday night.
Amber Orrange added six points and four assists and Ogwumike also had 11 rebounds and three assists as the Cardinal bounced back from a loss at top-ranked and defending champion Connecticut on Monday to win their home opener at Maples Pavilion.
VanDerveer, in her 28th season at Stanford and 35th overall, moved within four victories of becoming the fifth women's basketball coach to reach 900 wins.
Ogwumike was 15-for-19 from the field and 6-for-8 from the free-throw line as she also recorded her 61st career double-double.
Ogwumike upped her career scoring total to 1,852 points, ninth on the Stanford list, 89 points behind Kayla Pedersen.
Ogwumike also upped her career rebounding total to 1,159, fourth on Stanford's all-time list, 67 behind older sister Nnemkadi Ogwumike.