By David Kiefer
Stanford Sports Information
Christen Press' record-setting chip shot proved to be a game-winner as No. 2 Stanford earned a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Portland on Saturday night in nonconference women's soccer action at sold out Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
Stanford scored two goals within a 15-minute span to take a 2-0 lead during a first half that was as close to flawless soccer as the Cardinal has played all season. The fact that Press broke Stanford's career scoring record during that time seemed only fitting.
With her 153rd point, Press eclipsed the mark of 152 established by Sarah Rafanelli in the early 90s.
"I've been saying all along, Christen Press is an incredible player," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "The goal she scored was fantastic. The whole season and her whole career, she's been amazing. She deserves it and I'm really proud of her."
With a national-leading 13 goals this season, Press is within one goal of matching another Rafanelli record. She also needs only three assists to reach Marcie Ward's school record of 40.
"It's a big honor," Press said of her points mark. "But we're just playing the game to win, any way, shape, or form."
A cracker of a goal by Mariah Nogueira opened the scoring for Stanford (8-0-2) in the 21st minute. First, Nogueira intercepted a pass deep in Portland's own end and then fired a scorching 25-yard shot that soared over goalkeeper Hailee DeYoung and dipped just under the crossbar.
Press made it 2-0 when she took a pass from Teresa Noyola wide of the penalty area and cut inside, chipping a left-footed shot inside the far post in the 36th minute. The goal stood, even after Portland's Danielle Foxhoven picked up the rebound of her own blocked shot to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 80th minute.
Stanford outshot Portland, 11-1, in the first half -- and 17-6 in the match -- while controlling play and possession. Keep in mind that the Pilots (10-1) came in with the best record in the country.
However, Portland changed the momentum in the second half, applying high pressure and forcing Stanford into a mistake when goalkeeper Emily Oliver took a back pass and hit a teammate on her clearing attempt. The Pilots took advantage to set up the scoring sequence.
"Our first-half performance was incredible," Ratcliffe said. "Second half, I wasn't as pleased with the team. I thought we could have finished the game better."
Central defender Alina Garciamendez, who plays a vital role in establishing the tempo and beginning the team's buildup, said, "I feel we're almost where we want to be. The first half was a glimpse of how we should be playing and what we're capable of."
Said Press, "I think that was one of the first times we've really been able to dominate a game against a top opponent. Good soccer won us the game."
And it could bring Stanford back to the top of the national rankings. After No. 1 North Carolina lost to No. 4 Boston College, 3-2, on Thursday, the feeling was that the top ranking would go to the Stanford-Portland winner, when the NSCAA coaches' poll is released on Tuesday.
"It's not something we worry about, but it's something that we strive for," said Press. "We know it's a possibility. It's a motivator more than anything."
Stanford faces a ranked opponent for the seventh time, and concludes its nonconference season, when it plays host to No. 10 Santa Clara on Sunday, Oct. 3, at 1 p.m. in a rematch of the Cardinal's 1-0 victory in the third round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
The Stanford men's and women's cross country teams won their respective races at the Stanford Invitational on Saturday.
The top-ranked Cardinal men scored 31 points in defeating a pair of ranked teams, while the No. 14 Cardinal women cruised to a victory with 41 points.
"I was really pleased with both teams," said head coach Jason Dunn. "They did a really good job of running and competing as a team together."
The Cardinal men looked strong throughout, running as a team and building strength over the 8,000-meter course. Last season's national runner-up, David McNeil of Northern Arizona, took the race out hard, but instead of following him, Stanford hung back and ran as a team. Chris Derrick, Elliott Heath and Jacob Riley ran shoulder to shoulder, controlling the pace of the chase group.
For the women, Stanford's Kathy Kroeger won the individual title. The sophomore covered the 6,000-meter course in 20:06, finishing four seconds ahead of Cal's Deborah Maier.
"It was a great first race for Kathy," added Dunn. "She has come in really fit."
Finishing as Stanford's No. 2 runner was Georgia Griffin who placed fifth overall with a time of 20:45. Griffin placed 12th each of the last two years and ran the fastest 6K time of her career.
Stanford women's golf moved in to a tie for 14th after a round of 6-over-par 294 on Saturday at the Mason Rudolph Women's Championships. The Cardinal is now at 16-over-par 592 for the championship.
Stanford freshman Oliver Toole is in first place at the two-day men's Pacific Coast Conference Singlehanded Championships while the coed team is in 11th place after the first of two days of racing at the St. Mary's College Intersectional with 108 points.