A jewel for the Cardinal | October 14, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - October 14, 2011

A jewel for the Cardinal

Freshman Obogagu Shines for No. 1 women vs. Bruins

by Rick Eymer

Chioma Ubogagu wears a pair of shiny red shoes and when the sun hits them just right, they seem to sparkle. It's a perfect metaphor for the jewel that Ubogagu has become for the Stanford women's soccer team.

The freshman forward scored the game's first two goals and the top-ranked Cardinal downed visiting No. 3 UCLA, 4-1, on a Sunday when the sun shone brightly upon Ubogagu and her teammates.

Stanford (5-0, 13-0-1) opened a three-point lead over the Bruins in the Pac-12 Conference race, scoring as many goals against UCLA (3-1-1, 10-1-2) as it had allowed all season.

The Cardinal will play a single match at Arizona State on Friday night before returning home to host Utah on Oct. 21 and Colorado on Oct. 23. A trip to Oregon the following week will set up a regular-season finale at home against Cal on Nov. 5 before the NCAA tournament gets under way.

If there was a match that set up the remainder of the schedule, it was Sunday's win over the Bruins.

"I thought we started a little slow but then we settled in and started moving the ball," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "UCLA came at us with high pressure and we looked a little shocked by it."

Ubogagu has stepped into the starting lineup and given Stanford another high-powered offensive weapon to replace last year's National Player of the Year Christen Press. Ubogagu scored her fifth and sixth goals of the season, matching her with Teresa Noyola for second on the team

"She has been in a little but of slump the last couple of games," Ratcliffe said. "Today she had a breakout game."

Ubogagu said she's just doing what she always does.

"I'm just going to try and go out at people," she said. "I thought we all did well, trying to find space down the middle."

For her efforts against UCLA and in a 3-0 win over USC on Friday, Ubogagu was named the Pac-12 Conference women's soccer Player of the Week. This is Ubogagu's first Pac-12 honor, and the second for Stanford this season. She also was named as one of Our Game Magazine's weekly Players to Watch for her performances.

Ubogagu wasn't the only freshman who made an impression on the field Sunday. Sacred Heart Prep graduate Abby Dahlkemper, who grew up five minutes from Stanford, has been brilliant for the Bruins all season at right fullback.

"It was nice being able to be comfortable in my surroundings," said Dahlkemper, who has played all but five minutes of the season for the Bruins. "I was able to visit home for a couple hours and the fans were great."

Dahlkemper is one of six freshmen starters for the Bruins, who also have a new coach in B.J. Snow.

"You know you can count on her," Snow said of Dahlkemper. "She competes for 90 minutes."

The Bruins outshot Stanford, 13-12, including six on goal. UCLA freshman Katelyn Rowland, who made one save and brought an 0.29 GAA into the contest, really had no chance to get to any of Stanford's first three goals.

"It's strange to outshot a team and lose by so much," Snow said. "Stanford took care of their chances in the beginning of the game. I thought we played a great second half."

Emily Oliver made five saves for the Cardinal, and none more important than a point-blank stop just 35 seconds into the contest.

Senior Lindsay Taylor from Castilleja and Kristy Zurmuhlen also scored for Stanford. Zurmuhlen limped off the field late in the game though it doesn't appear to be anything serious.

The Cardinal's shutout streak ended at seven matches, as it held opponents without a score for a span of 675 minutes, 24 seconds. But Stanford extended its regular-season unbeaten streak to 56, its home winning streak to 43, and its conference winning streak to 25.

Along with Obogagu, other Stanford players were honored this week:

The entire Stanford back line of Rachel Quon, Alina Garciamendez, Kendall Romine, and Camille Levin was named to Top Drawer Soccer's Team of the Week.

Garciamendez was among collegesoccer360.com's Primetime Players of the Week.

Men's soccer

Stanford welcomes Washington and Oregon State to Cagan Stadium this weekend for a crucial Pac-12 homestand. The Cardinal will be looking for a pair of positive results, coming off a 1-1 tie with California in its Pac-12 home opener.

The Cardinal host Washington on Friday at 7 p.m., and Oregon State on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Cardinal is now 3-6-2 overall and 0-2-1 in Pac-12 play, having dropped its first two conference games on the road at San Diego State and UCLA, before coming home to tie Cal. Adam Jahn scored on a brilliant free kick to earn the draw with the Golden Bears, widening his team lead in goals with three.

Stanford has now totaled nine goals on the year with Dersu Abolfathi joining Jahn with multiple goals. Eric Anderson leads the team with three assists. In goal, Jason Dodson has started the last five games and is allowing just one goal per game during that stretch. He leads the team with 31 saves.

The Cardinal is 16-24-1 all-time against Washington, including being swept by the Huskies last year. Washington defeated Stanford 1-0 at Cagan Stadium last season and 2-0-2 against Stanford the past two seasons. Stanford last defeated Washington in 2008 when it won 4-2 at Cagan Stadium.

Stanford has had much better results against Oregon State, owning a 24-5-4 all-time record. A win on Sunday would give Stanford 25 wins against Oregon State, which would match its win total against California for the most against any school in program history. The Cardinal swept the Beavers last season and has now won four straight against Oregon State. In addition, the Cardinal holds a six-game unbeaten streak against Oregon State and has not lost at home to the Beavers since 2005.

Washington is led by Brent Richards who is second in the conference with seven goals. He was a first team All-Pac-10 team selection last season and is a player-of-the-year candidate this year. The Huskies are 6-3-2 overall and 1-2-0 in the Pac-12. Washington is coming off a big win over No. 18 San Diego State and is now 2-0-1 against ranked teams. The Huskies are led by first-year head coach Jaime Clark, who was a two-time All-American at Stanford when he played for his father Bobby Clark.

Oregon State is 3-7-1 overall and also 1-2-0 in the Pac-12. Oregon State upset Washington to earn its only conference win thus far.

A pair of wins for Stanford would get the Cardinal back to .500 in Pac-12 play. UCLA (4-0) and San Diego State (3-1) are off to hot starts, making it all the more necessary for Stanford to get positive results this weekend to get back in the conference race.

After this weekend, Stanford will head to the Northwest to play the same two teams on the road. Its final homestand will come on November 4 and 6 when San Diego State and UCLA come to town.