Sports

LaBonta's penalty kick ends dramatic overtime contest

 

Lo'eau LaBonta drilled a penalty kick into the upper left corner in overtime to

give No. 4 Stanford a much-deserved 1-0 victory over No. 6 Florida in a nonconference women's soccer thriller Friday night.


Lo’eau LaBonta
Stephanie Amack was brought down near the end line on a deep run from her outside left back position, setting up the penalty for LaBonta at 92:47.

LaBonta, a senior tri-captain, did not start because of an injury, but came off the bench in the 79th minute and convinced her teammates that she should take the shot.

The match featured spectacular saves by both goalkeepers – Jane Campbell of Stanford and Taylor Burke of Florida – and a growing Stanford offensive presence as the match evolved.

"Hopefully, we would have scored any way," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "But we'll take it."

Stanford (5-0-1) broke a school record for most consecutive shutouts to open the season, with its sixth while extending its shutout streak to 582 minutes, 12 seconds.

Campbell earned her fifth shutout of the season and was involved in one play that seemed to change the tenor of the match.

Play was physical around the Stanford goal mouth and the sophomore Campbell took the brunt of it. But about the time Stanford struggled to mount an attack – the Cardinal failed to get a shot off in the first 35 minutes – Campbell and her U.S. Under-20 World Cup teammate Savannah Jordan of Florida got into a shoving match.

No cards were issued, but the emotional rise ignited the Cardinal, which outshot Florida, 17-5, after halftime.

But it wasn't just the shots, or the scoring chances, it was the effort that was so exceptional. Sophomore forward Megan Turner, in her first start this season, fought every ball. If there was a theme to Stanford's performance, it was its refusal to give up on any play.

Turner and Taylor Uhl both outfought better-positioned defenders to the ball when plays seemed lost, and kept them alive, creating an increasing level of chaos.

On one play, Uhl's hard shot was fumbled by Burke, who recovered to retrieve the ball before it crossed the goal line. Hannah Farr, the lacrosse All-American who started for LaBonta, was another unsung hero, playing hard intense soccer throughout.

When Burke left the penalty area to make a sliding clear with her feet, Farr sent a long-range shot back toward the Florida goal, only for the backtracking Burke to make a leaping save.

But if that save could be topped, Campbell did so. Jordan took advantage of a rare Stanford defensive mistake to pounce on a loose ball and fire a long-distance shot toward the Cardinal goal, only to be denied by Campbell's diving full-extension finger-tip parry to tip the ball over the goal.

"Unbelievable save," Ratcliffe said. "That was our one mistake that we made. They made a great play and Jane had to come up big. What a goalkeeper. What a save."

Chioma Ubogagu had several cutting and darting runs that led to her five shots and opened up the Florida defense. On one late play, she cut right so hard, it left three Gators flat-footed, but her shot was saved.

"We started to connect in the second half, settled in and started to wear them down," Ratcliffe said. "We started getting better and better chances, and we needed to finish one."

It didn't come in a conventional way, but with a penalty. There's was denying the validity. The only question was who would take the kick.

"Chi and I both stepped up the ball," LaBonta said. "She just laughed at me because when I went up to her, I said, 'rock, paper, scissors.' She said, 'No, you take it.' I said, 'All right, you give it to me and I'll take it.'"

The result was Stanford's fourth victory in five matches against ranked teams this season – the exception being a draw against Notre Dame. The Cardinal next plays visiting Dayton on Sunday at 1 p.m.

"It was very strange to have the match end on a penalty," LaBonta said. "You don't often get these opportunities. Chi and I both stepped up, but I was confident in her to take it too. We practice this, we have confidence, and all the pressure's on the keeper."

— Stanford Athletics

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