By David Kiefer
Stanford Sports Information
Christen Press didn't curse the rain during the rain Friday night, she welcomed it.
The high-scoring Stanford forward saw the elements as a challenge. And, as she has done all season, she rose to it by scoring two goals in the top-ranked Cardinal's 3-0 victory over visiting UCLA before 1,896 soaked fans at the NCAA Tournament third-round women's soccer match.
Stanford hosts Florida State (16-5-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. with a berth in the Final Four at stake. The second-seeded Seminoles beat Marquette, 3-0, Saturday.
Stanford is the only No. 1 seed remaining after Notre Dame shocked defending national champion North Carolina, 4-1, on Saturday.
The winner of the Florida State-Stanford match will meet the winner of the Washington-Boston College match in the Final Four at Cary, N.C.
On the other side of the bracket, Georgetowna and Ohio State meet for a chance at the winner of Notre Dame-Oklahoma State.
The rain may have contributed to a costly mistake for UCLA (13-8-2), which lost its chance to appear in an eighth consecutive College Cup final four, but it didn't seem to have any effect on the zigzagging runs and cutback moves that make Press so hard to mark.
"A lot of the game turns into heart when it's raining," Press said. "But things went our way early on, so we were able to control the game a little more.
"Games likes these are usually really tight if you don't get goals early and conditions get really bad. But we were able to control the game."
Stanford (21-0-2), the nation's top-ranked team, advanced to the quarterfinals for the third consecutive season and will play the winner of Saturday's match between Marquette and Florida State at a date and site to be determined.
The Cardinal, which is 98-0-5 since 2006 when scoring at least one goal, opened the scoring in the fifth minute when a ball played in by Mariah Nogueira glanced off the head of UCLA defender Elise Britt, off the post and into the goal. Last year, when the two teams met at Stanford, an own goal also gave Stanford a 1-0 lead.
"It could have been this rain," Britt said. "I haven't exactly played in it for a while and it just skimmed off my head the wrong way. I definitely wasn't anticipating it being that slippery."
Press made it 2-0 in the 29th minute when she took a pass from Camille Levin on the right side, cut left past a defender, and then cut right past another before unleashing a right-footed shot inside the right post.
In the second half, Press had more chances. On a breakaway, she released a shot that goalkeeper Chante' Sandiford, a summer club teammate of Press, reached with her fingertips, causing enough of a ripple to force the ball inches over the crossbar.
In the 60th minute, a shot by Lindsay Taylor deflected off, apparently, the arm of a UCLA defender. But while the Stanford bench was pleading for a handball, Teresa Noyola calmly sent a pass toward the top of the box, where Press met it for her 25th goal of the season.
For Press, the national scoring leader, the goals brought her within one of Kelley O'Hara's year-old single-season Stanford record of 26.
Afterward, coach Paul Ratcliffe was just as impressed with another aspect of Press' game.
"Everyone talks about what a talented player she is, but for me, her leadership skills have been tremendous this year," Ratcliffe said. "She really cares about everyone on the team, she works so hard in training, and she's an example for all the younger players. She has really emerged as a great leader and that's been a big part of our success."
UCLA outshot Stanford, 14-13, but Cardinal goalkeeper Emily Oliver was hardly tested, other than placing herself in front of a slippery ball. She earned her eighth shutout and the team earned its 13th, having allowed only five goals in its past 18 matches.
Courtney Verloo returned to the lineup in central defense after missing two matches with an injury. Her presence allowed Levin to move from defense back to forward, allowing Levin to pick up her 10th assist. Noyola later tallied her 12th assist, moving her into a tie for sixth on Stanford's single-season list.
"We scored pretty early and we were able to be a little more conservative, especially when we got a two-goal lead," Ratcliffe said. "So, we were kind of absorbing pressure and counter attacking. It was a tactical move."
Stanford extended a few winning streaks: 20 consecutive victories, 34 in a row at home, and 11 straight at home in NCAA Tournament play.
But for Press and her three fellow seniors - Kira Maker, Allison McCann, and Morgan Redman - the only streak that mattered was the one that allowed them to continue to play.
"Going on a playoff run as a senior it resonates totally differently because you can fight twice as hard, and you're fighting just to be on the team for another day," Press said. "For the four seniors, we want it so badly just because we love our team. We've had such a good experience we don't want it to end."
Second-ranked Stanford has beaten Lions, Tigers, Huskies and Bruins this season but can't sem to trap the Bears.
Thre Cardinal lost to host California, 28-26, 17-25, 17-25, 20-25, in a Pac-10 match Friday night to fall out of a tie for first place.
With two matches to play, the Bears seemed poised to win their first conference title ever.
The Cardinal drop to 22-3 on the season and 13-3 in the Pac-10, while the Golden Bears improve to 24-2 overall and take sole possession of first place in the conference with a 14-2 mark.
Senior Alix Klineman led the Cardinal with 24 kills and 11 digs for her 12th double-double of the season. Senior setter/hitter Cassidy Lichtman recorded her second straight triple-double, third of the season, with 12 kills, 24 assists and 10 digs.
Stanford was out hit for just the second time this season, .359 to .205.
Stanford swept the top three spots in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke, while John Criste set a meet record twice in the 100 breaststroke to highlight the Cardinal on the second day of the Long Beach Arena Invite.
Criste's time of 53.37 was six-tenths of second better than his preliminary time of 53.97 in the 100-yard event, posting a B standard in the process.
In the 200 free, Rob Andrews led led wire to wire, as the first of five straight teammates to post B standard times, leading with a time of 1:35.67.
The 100 back was also filled with the Cardinal as Matthew Swanston led the field with a time of 48.51, ahead of teammates Andrew Saeta (49.31) and Geoff Cheah (49.45).
Stanford freshmen Maya DiRado and Andie Taylor finished 1-2 in the 400-yard individual medley and freshman Felicia Lee won the 100 fly on the second day of the Long Beach Arena Invite.
Betsy Webb was a part of her fourth meet record, winning the 100 back and Kate Dwelley won the 200 free as the Cardinal have won seven of eight individual events.
Stanford beat host Cal State Fullerton, 29-11, Friday night, earning its second straight victory in Pac-10 play.
The Cardinal (2-0, 2-1) won seven of 10 bouts, including a pin by sophomore Ryan Mango and a technical fall by junior Nick Amuchastegui.
Stanford competes in the Fullerton Open this weekend.
Men's water polo
Fifth-ranked Stanford had its five-year Big Splash winning streak snapped Friday night as top-ranked California downed the Cardinal, 9-6, in Berkeley.
The loss for Stanford (13-7, 5-3 MPSF) means that the Cardinal will be either the third or fourth seed at next weekend's MPSF Tournament at Avery Aquatic Center.
If USC loses to UC Irvine Saturday afternoon, then the Cardinal will be the third seed, while a USC win makes Stanford the fourth seed.
The MPSF Tournament will begin Friday, Nov. 26 at Avery Aquatic Center.
Senior Jeffrey Schwimer led the Cardinal with two goals Friday night.
Senior Xanthe Travlos and sophomore Becky Dru have been named 2010 Longstreth/NFHCA All-West Region First Team selections, as announced today by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA).
Senior Camille Gandhi was also tabbed a Second Team choice, giving Stanford three selections overall.
Travlos has earned the honor all four seasons, being named to the First Team three times and the Second Team in 2008. The honor is the first of Dru's career while Gandhi is a three-time First Team honoree.