Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan got starting assignments instead of Stanford grad Christen Press and UCLA's Sydney Leroux on the forward line and it worked out OK as Wambach scored the game's only goal and Morgan got a chance to stretch her legs for an extended period of playing time.
The United States women's national soccer team's 1-0 victory, in front of a crowd of 52,193 at BC Place, over Nigeria on Tuesday clinched the top spot in Group D of the FIFA Women's World Cup in Vancouver, B.C., Canada and a berth in the Round of 16 next Monday at 5 p.m.
Team Mexico, which features Stanford grads Alina Garciamendez and Palo Alto's Teresa Noyola, has a chance to finish as high as second in Group F if it beats the French and England loses. Nonetheless there's a chance the former Cardinal players could hold a reunion with Press and O'Hara.
There's no such chance for Stanford grad Ali Riley and her New Zealand team, which tied China, 2-2, on Monday. The Ferns finished 0-1-2 and were eliminated.
"Obviously at the moment it is very bittersweet," New Zealand's Rebekah Stott told FIFA.com. "It's been an amazing experience. I've played every minute of every game and I've learned a lot. The whole team has, really."
Press scored the go-ahead goal in the Americans' 3-1 in over Australia to open Cup play and and has been quiet since. Wambach, the leading scorer in U.S. history, recorded her first goal of the competition, and the 14th World Cup goal of her storied career.
Morgan, recovering from a bruised knee, started for the first time since April. Morgan played for about 65 minutes and replaced by Leroux. Press and fellow Cardinal grad Kelley O'Hara never saw the field.
Christie Rampone, who turns 40 on June 24, became the oldest player to appear in a Women's World Cup when she entered the game in the 80th minute. She made the first of her 307 U.S. appearances in February 1997.
Wambach scored on a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe, who drove it toward the back post. Wambach out-jumped the Nigeria defense, controlled the ball and slipped it in moments before halftime.
Wambach moved into a tie with Germany's Birgit Prinz for second all-time in Cup play, behind only Brazil's Marta, the leader with 15 goals.