Freshmen pace Stanford women in exhibition soccer opener


Powered by its freshman class, the No. 3 Stanford women's soccer team beat Fresno State, 3-0, in an exhibition Friday night at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.

Tegan McGrady came off the bench to score one goal and assist on another, and fellow freshman Michelle Xiao had an assist and may have been match's top player.

Michelle Xiao
Stanford's freshman class was judged the best in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer and played like it. Three freshmen started – Xiao at forward, Jordan DiBiasi in the midfield, and Alana Cook in central defense. At one point in the first half, six freshmen (counting redshirt freshman Kyra Carusa) were in the match at the same time for Stanford.

A junior, Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, scored the first goal when she headed in a corner from fifth-year senior Haley Rosen in the sixth minute. Walker-Hartshorn is Stanford's leading returning scorer, with eight last year. Overall, the Cardinal is returning only 15 of its 56 goals (27 percent) from 2014. That is one reason Stanford is counting so heavily on its freshmen.

They certainly took the first step into proving themselves. Xiao, in particular, played with the quickness, touch, and smarts that set her apart. She constantly created dangerous chances with her runs, artistry, and combination play. On one sequence, she brutally outsprinted a defender along the left sideline and set up a corner kick.

Her pass to McGrady set up an appropriate freshman combination for the second goal, in the 69th minute. The ball was played up a seam and McGrady polished it off perfectly, sticking her shot inside the right post.

In the 82nd minute, McGrady set up sophomore Mariah Lee for a goal-scoring header with a long pass to the far post.

McGrady's speed at outside back allowed her to cover a lot of ground and seemed to be in the mix throughout her 44 minutes of action. McGrady tied Rosen for the most shots, with four apiece.

Stanford dominated possession and outshot Fresno State (4-16 last season), 24-3. The Bulldogs were held without a shot for the first 72 minutes.

Stanford opens the season in earnest with two matches at the Outrigger Resorts Soccer Classic in Honolulu. Hawaii is the opening opponent on Aug. 21, followed by BYU on Aug. 24. The Cardinal plays its official home opener against Boston College on Aug. 28.

— Stanford Athletics

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