Freshman Jordan DiBiasi proved you don't always need to use the conventional way to score goals. Sometimes all it takes is a click of the heel.
DiBiasi produced her third game-winning goal to lift the No. 4 Stanford women's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over visiting No. 16 USC on Thursday night, clinching at least a share of the Pac-12 title -- the 10th conference title in its storied history.
DiBiasi made a near-post run inside the 18-yard box while senior Haley Rosen was holding the ball near the endline and fending off a Trojan defender. Rosen was able to create enough space to slip a pass to DiBiasi who let the ball run through her legs and tapped it past USC's goalkeeper with the back of her right heel.
"It was a phenomenal goal by Jordan," said Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe. "I can't say enough about her to score a goal like that under pressure was truly remarkable. It was an incredible goal and the freshmen have stepped up the entire season, scoring so many goals for us and been a big part of our success."
While the freshmen have had a significant impact on the season, fifth-year senior Rosen has been outstanding and contributed the dirty work needed to create the opportunity on Stanford's conference-championship clinching goal. She leads the Cardinal with 15 points, five assists and is tied for the team-lead in goals with five.
"Haley played an amazing ball in and I was just lucky to get on the end of it," said DiBiasi. "She really leads our team by example. She sets the standard and everyone looks up to her."
After a back-and-forth first half of action, Stanford found its groove in the second half, maintaining a majority of the possession and outshooting USC (12-5-1, 7-2 Pac-12) by a margin of 12-4. The Cardinal finished the game with advantages in shots (19-7) and corner kicks (6-3). Nine different Stanford players registered at least one shot.
Stanford's defense had a strong performance, limiting USC to three shots on goal and keeping the Trojans out of the 18-yard box. Jane Campbell, the reigning Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week, made three saves to earn her seventh shutout of the year and 27th of her career, tying her with Emily Oliver ('13) for fifth in program history.
Campbell made a crucial save in the 26th minute to keep the score at 0-0 when USC got behind Stanford's backline and into the penalty box. Campbell came racing off her line to stop a breakaway shot by the Trojans' Jamie Fink.
Alana Cook and Maddie Bauer were impressive in the centerback positions, routinely halting USC's attack and holding possession to help generate Stanford's offense. Laura Liedle, Stephanie Amack and Tegan McGrady did well at the outside back positions to limit the impact of the Trojans' speedy attackers, while also finding opportunities to make runs forward and get involved in the offense.
Amack nearly gave Stanford the lead in the first half when she fired a low shot off the left post in the 33rd minute.
Despite the numerous opportunities, it took a special effort by DiBiasi to lock up the victory. Rosen contributed an assist on the goal her fifth of the season. Rosen has recorded at least one point in each of the past three games and has six points over that span.
Ratcliffe hopes the experience of Thursday's high-pressure matchup helps prepare his team for the postseason.
"We knew we had to win this game to clinch the Pac-12 championship so that pressure is good to feel now and break through and win that game," he said. "When you get to the playoffs, all the games are like this. Win and move on, or lose and go home. I want them to feel that because some of the players are younger and it's good to get a taste of it."
For the 16th consecutive season, Stanford was ranked in USA TODAY Preseason Top 25 Coaches' Poll, this time checking in at No. 14 in results released Thursday. It's the 275th consecutive coaches' poll to feature the Cardinal.
Stanford closed out 2014-15 ranked 14th in the same poll. The Cardinal finished third in the Pac-12 a season ago with a 13-5 mark, but rallied through Seattle to claim the program's 11th Pac-12 Tournament Championship in 14 tries and earn the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Stanford, which has been to 28 consecutive tournaments, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the eighth straight year and with a 26-10 overall record, won at least 20 games for the 14th straight season.
Stanford will face at least three members of the preseason top 25 during its nonconference schedule this season. No. 4 Tennessee visits Maples on Wednesday, Dec. 16 (6 p.m.) in a game televised on ESPNU. The Cardinal also begins its home schedule with No. 21 George Washington on Saturday, Nov. 21 (TBD) and travels to No. 11 Texas for an ESPN game on Sunday, Dec. 13 (10 a.m. PT).
A matchup with No. 8 Louisville is a possibility at the Gulf Coast Showcase on Sunday, Nov. 29 depending on how the bracket shakes out in that tournament.
The Pac-12 has three teams in the preseason poll with No. 9 Oregon State and No. 15 Arizona State joining No. 14 Stanford among the nation's top 25.