Sports

Ubogagu brightens the day for No. 1 Stanford

Smith scores in final seconds to lift top-ranked men's water polo team to 6-5 win over UCSB

By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

Chioma Ubogagu wears a pair of shiny red shoes and when the sun hits them just right, they seem to sparkle.

It's a perfect metaphor for the jewel that Ubogagu has become for the Stanford women's soccer team.

The freshman forward scored the game's first two goals and the top-ranked Cardinal downed visiting No. 3 UCLA, 4-1, on a Sunday when the sun shone brightly upon Ubogagu and her teammates.

Stanford (5-0, 13-0-1) opened a three-point lead over the Bruins in the Pac-12 Conference race, scoring as many goals against UCLA (3-1-1, 10-1-2) as it had allowed all season.

"I thought we started a little slow but then we settled in and started moving the ball," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "UCLA came at us with high pressure and we looked a little shocked by it."

Ubogagu has stepped into the starting lineup and given Stanford another high-powered offensive weapon to replace last year's National Player of the Year Christen Press. Ubogagu scored her fifth and sixth goals of the season, matching her with Teresa Noyola for second on the team

"She has been in a little but of slump the last couple of games," Ratcliffe said. "Today she had a breakout game."

Ubogagu said she's just doing what she always does.

"I'm just going to try and go out at people," she said. "I thought we all did well, trying to find space down the middle."

She wasn't the only freshman who made an impression on the field Sunday. Sacred Heart Prep graduate Abby Dahlkemper, who grew up five minutes from Stanford, has been brilliant for the Bruins all season at right fullback.

"It was nice being able to be comfortable in my surroundings," said Dahlkemper, who has played all but five minutes of the season for the Bruins. "I was able to visit home for a couple hours and the fans were great."

Dahlkemper is one of six freshmen starters for the Bruins, who also have a new coach in B.J. Snow.

"You know you can count on her," Snow said of Dahlkemper. "She competes for 90 minutes."

The Bruins outshot Stanford, 13-12, including six on goal. UCLA freshman Katelyn Rowland, who made one save and brought an 0.29 GAA into the contest, really had no chance to get to any of Stanford's first three goals.

"It's strange to outshot a team and lose by so much," Snow said. "Stanford took care of their chances in the beginning of the game. I thought we played a great second half."

Emily Oliver made five saves for the Cardinal, and none more important than a point-blank stop just 35 seconds into the contest.

Lindsay Taylor and Kristy Zurmuhlen also scored for Stanford. Zurmuhlen limped off the field late in the game though it doesn't appear to be anything serious.

The Cardinal's shutout streak ended at seven matches, as it held opponents without a score for a span of 675 minutes, 24 seconds. But Stanford extended its regular-season unbeaten streak to 56, its home winning streak to 43, and its conference winning streak to 25.

Men's water polo

Jacob Smith made a key steal with 30 seconds remaining and then scored the game-winner with four seconds left, completing No. 1 Stanford's 6-5 come-from-behind win over No. 5 UC Santa Barbara Sunday at Avery Aquatic Center in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation action.

Stanford (9-2, 2-0) hosts No. 3 UCLA at noon in a key MPSF matchup next Saturday.

Smith's game-winner, his second goal of the day, highlighted a wild final two minutes which featured two lead changes. The Cardinal never led until Smith connected at the end of the contest.

UC Santa Barbara took a 5-4 advantage with 2:03 remaining to play. Alex Bowen took advantage of a power-play to knot things up again with 1:28 left.

The Gauchos had possession with 40 seconds left and a chance to run the clock down. Smith intercepted a cross-pool pass and was leading a breakaway when he was fouled from behind. That set up a power play with 19 seconds left, giving Smith the opportunity to score the game winner.

Smith and Bowen each scored twice for Stanford,which won its sixth straight. Cardinak goalkeeper Brian Pingree recorded six saves.

Women's tennis

Stanford senior Mallory Burdette made it a perfect finish when she and sophomore Nicole Gibbs teamed up to beat Florida's Allie Will and Sophie Oyen, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), to win the doubles title Sunday at the ITA All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades.

Earlier in the day, Burdette won the consolation title with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Florida's Joanna Mather.

Will won the main draw singles title, beating Arizona State's Jacqueline Cako, 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3, in the finals.

Field hockey

Seventh-ranked Stanford dropped a 6-3 nonconference decision to host No. 12 New Hampshire on Sunday, ending its school-matching record nine-game winning streak.

The Cardinal (10-2) hosts Pacific in a NorPac contest Friday at 7 p.m. and then travels to California for a 1 p.m. match next Sunday.

Courtney Haldeman, Emily Henriksson and Stephanie Byrne scored for the Cardinal.

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