Sports

Stanford women look to seniors to advance in NCAA soccer

 

Stanford women's soccer coach Paul Ratcliffe said, before the NCAA Tournament began, that he expected his seniors to step up and play well.

After a surprising first-half deficit against Cal State Fullerton in an NCAA opener, that's exactly what Chioma Ubogagu, Taylor Uhl, Lo'eau LaBonta and Alex Doll, seniors all, accomplished in last week's come-from-behind victory. Ubogagu and Uhl took care of the scoring, while LaBonta and Doll each recorded a pair of assists.

Watch for something similar on Friday night when third-ranked and top-seeded Stanford (18-1-2) takes on visiting Arkansas (9-6-6) in a second-round match at 7 p.m.

Fourth-seeded Washington (13-6-2) meets Missouri (12-6-3), also at Stanford, at 4:30 p.m.

The winners meet Sunday at 1 p.m. for a spot in the Elite Eight. The Stanford men's team also plays Sunday, at 5 p.m. against either UC Irvine or UNLV.

The Razorbacks reached the second round following a 3-2 overtime victory over Oklahoma.

Arkansas qualified for its first trip to the NCAA Tournament last year and reached the Sweet Sixteen, losing to Duke in penalty kicks. A schedule that included No. 1 seed Texas A&M and two No. 2 seeds in Florida and North Carolina have tested the Razorbacks, who are 2-6-4 against the field and 7-0-2 against everybody else.

"We did such a good job of putting ourselves in a position for a No. 1 seed," Ubogagu said last week. "I really believe in this team and the players on the field, in everyone's fight and competitiveness."

Ubogagu recorded her first career hat trick in Stanford's victory over the Titans. She jumped into second on the team with 26 points (10 goals, six assists), behind LaBonta's 27 (11-5). Uhl is third with 21 points on nine goals and three assists.

"Every game can your last," Uhl said after last week's win. "So we're happy to keep playing and, hopefully, keep winning."

Stanford brings a 22-match home winning streaking in NCAA competition into Friday's contest, though Arkansas may not be impressed after winning in Norman, Okla., for the first time ever and gaining its first win in eight tries against the Sooners.

Arkansas junior Ashleigh Ellenwood (5 goals, 11 assists, 24 points) was an invitee to the United States' Under-23 national team in August. She has seven assists in her past six games.

Razorbacks sophomore Alexandria Fischer has two goals in her past eight shots and 15 points overall. Sophomore Claire Kelly has 19 points on six goals and seven assists.

Stanford, now 11-1-1 against the field, is 2-0 all-time against Arkansas, though the teams haven't met since 1995. The Cardinal won that match, 6-0, in Corvallis, Ore. Stanford also played in the Arkansas Invitational, winning 3-0 in 1993.

The Cardinal, making its 24th appearance over the past 25 years, is hoping to reach its seventh Women's College Cup the equivalent of the Final Four overall and its first since a streak of five straight appearances was snapped last year.

Stanford averages 2.48 goals a game and allows an average of 0.48. Arkansas scores at a 1.67 clip and allows 1.29 goals a contest.

Washington earned its spot in the second round beating Rider, 1-0. It was the Huskies' first NCAA victory since 2010 and the 13 wins were the most since 2008.

Missouri, which owns a win over North Carolina this season, beat Kansas in its first NCAA tournament road game. The Tigers are in their sixth tournament and are 2-3 against the Top 25.

In other Friday games involving Pac-12 teams, overall No. 1 seed UCLA (with Sacred Heart Prep grad Abby Dahlkemper leading the way) hosts Harvard, Arizona State plays at third-seeded Kentucky, Arizona travels to No. 1 seed Texas A&M, Colorado is at No. 2 seed North Carolina and California meets host No. 2 seed Florida.n

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