No one expected the Stanford women's soccer team to suffer a scoring drought after losing its top two scorers the past two years, but who could have predicted this kind of abundance after five matches?
The second-ranked Cardinal downed visiting Northwestern, 6-0, in a nonconference match Sunday, with five different players reaching the scoring column.
Nine different players have scored 19 goals this year, 10 more than last year's national runner-up team, led by National Player of the Year Christen Press, scored at the same point and matching the National Player of the Year Kelley O'Hara-led Cardinal NCAA finalists of two years ago.
Stanford (4-0-1) hosts defending national champion Notre Dame on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in a reunion of last year's title match. The No. 10 Irish have dropped from the top spot in the national polls after a pair of losses but still pose a threat to Stanford's 47-match regular-season unbeaten streak, 38-match home winning streak and 42-match home unbeaten streak.
Palo Alto grad Teresa Noyola scored the first two goals of the contest, with Madeleine Thompson, Castilleja grad Lindsay Taylor, who leads the team with five, Chioma Ubogagu and Taylor McCann each adding a score.
Thompson, a junior defender, made her first career start and celebrated with her first career goal, getting to Shelby Payne's perfect cross and striking it into the net.
"I feel like there are a lot of us on the bench who have been working really hard," Thompson said. "And I feel like I've been working really hard for this. So, it's great to be rewarded for my effort."
Thompson also signifies what may be the biggest difference between Stanford and the rest of the college soccer world: the quality of depth that the Cardinal has accumulated over the past few recruiting years.
Thompson replaced the injured Kendall Romine, another in a series of injuries the Cardinal has suffered this season.
"The team is playing a good style of soccer," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "They're moving the ball well, creating chances and finishing chances. So, I'm really proud of what we're doing right now. But we still have a lot to prove, and it's still early in the year, so we've got to keep getting better."
Noyola scored twice within a four-minute span of the first half to spark Stanford. Taylor, Ubogagu and McCann each scored in the second half.
"I just want to keep improving with each game," Ratcliffe said. "Ultimately, I want this team to keep getting better, and keep improving so we're ready for Pac-12 and the playoffs."
Northwestern was held without a shot for the first 54 minutes and was outshot, 36-4, overall.
Noyola scored her first goal in the 18th minute after taking a pass from Kristy Zurmuhlen. Her second goal was a rebound of a shot from Ubogagu that bounced off the post.
Taylor also took advantage of a Ubogagu shot that was blocked. It was her 38th career goal.
Ubogagu scored unassisted and McCann completed the offensive portion of the proceedings with a leaping header from a pass by Alex Doll.
A total of 15 different players have either scored or contributed an assist for the Cardinal.
"The chemistry on this team is so great," Thompson said. "Everyone's been working so hard. I think people are pushing each other in so many different ways that it's making everybody as a whole better. We have such great depth and I really feel that any one of our players could step in and make a difference. This team's going to go really far. I have a great feeling about it."
Stanford remained winess following a tough 1-0 overtime loss to host Georgetown in a nonconference match Sunday.
The Hoyas needed over 100 minutes before getting the game winner.
Jason Dodson started in goal for Stanford and made five saves, keeping the Cardinal in the game.
Stanford was outshot 15-4, but kept a clean sheet until the 105th minute when Steve Neumann scored for the Hoyas.
Stanford (0-3) hosts No. 21 Kentucky as part of the Cal Legacy Classic on Friday at 3 p.m., kicking off a soccer tripleheader. The match will be followed by a pair of women's contests.
Men's water polo
Fourth-ranked Stanford beat Fresno Pacific, 16-0, in its season opener Sunday at the UC Irvine Invitational. Brian Pingree, Hunter Ploch and Scott Platshon shared time in the net for the Cardinal and combined for five saves.
Peter Sefton netted a hat trick to lead 10 different Cardinal goal scorers.