By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Marjani Hing-Glover made a rare start for the top-ranked and top-seeded Stanford women's soccer team Sunday in its second round game of the NCAA tournament, a 2-1 victory over visiting Santa Clara that sends the Cardinal into the Sweet Sixteen for the fifth consecutive season.
Hing-Glover, who also started in Friday's 3-0 victory over Sacramento State, didn't need to feel out of place though. She's practiced with and against the top players in the nation and she's played with or against most of the Broncos on the club level.
She showed why Cardinal coach Paul Ratcliffe, along with the rest of her teammates, was comfortable enough to put her in such a high-level contest. She scored Stanford's first goal with a full, left-footed volley into the net against one of the top nation's best goalkeepers in Brianca Henninger.
"It helps to have Christen Press on your side because she creates so many distractions that it leaves opportunities for others," Hing-Glover said. "I'm training every day against the best team in the nation. It's always head-to-head competition and really tough because we go at it."
The crossing pass came from redshirt freshman Annie Case, who plays on the other side of All-American candidate Rachel Quon.
"Stanford is hard to game plan for," Santa Clara coach Jerry Smith said. "We chose to force the ball away from Quon and to their left back (Case), who served a phenomenal ball. She put it in a perfect area."
Alina Garciamendez, a talented central defender who plays for the Mexican national team, scored her first collegiate goal off a corner kick from Lindsay Taylor, to make it 2-0 midway through the second half.
Santa Clara scored in the 74th minute to make it 2-1, ending Stanford's scoreless streak of 613 minutes, 42 seconds.
Hing-Glover played because of an injury to Courtney Verloo, who was available to play in an emergency. She's just another reason why Stanford (20-0-2) is favored to reach its third straight Final Four.
"Marjani had a great weekend," Cardinal senior forward Christen Press said. "She's a great player and it's about time everybody got to see it. We call her 'Johnny Rocket' nad you saw the way she rocketed the ball into the net."
Press leads the nation in scoring, yet has not recorded a point in Stanford's first two NCAA games. In fact, all five goals thus far have been scored by different players; none of whom are among the team's top five goal scorers.
"They are hard to keep track off," Smith said. "You can eliminate Press but someone else steps up. They have so many weapons and they are very good with off-ball movement."
The victory sets up another match with Pac-10 rival UCLA, which upset the region's No. 4 seed Central Florida, 2-1. Stanford hosts the Bruins (13-7-2) Friday night at 7 p.m.
UCLA was not the only team to surprise a seeded opponent. Washington, which finished sixth in the Pac-10, stunned No. 1 seed Portland in penalty kicks. Georgetown did the same to No. 1 seed Maryland.
"I wasn't really nervous," said Hing-Glover, who started for the fifth time all year. "I wanted to show what I could do."
It seems to be a recurring theme for this Stanford team.