Nov. 28, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. --- The Portland Pilots had their school-record 19-match winning streak halted and were eliminated from the 2008 NCAA women's soccer playoffs with a 1-0 loss to Stanford Friday evening at Cagan Stadium. It marks the third straight season that Portland has been ousted on the road in the quarterfinals by a one goal margin.
Stanford's Christen Press tallied the game-winner in the 86th minute to propel the Cardinal (22-1-1) to their second NCAA College Cup. Stanford will face No. 1 Notre Dame in one of the two semifinals scheduled from Friday, Dec. 5 in Cary, N.C.
It was a gutsy effort from the shorthanded Pilots (20-2-0), who despite missing five key players advanced to the quarterfinals for the fifth consecutive season. Playing without three USA Under-20 National Team players as they compete for a World Cup title in Chile - Michelle Enyeart, Keelin Winters and Elli Reed - as well as injured upperclassmen Rachael Rapinoe and Kendra Chandhoke, Portland pushed the host Cardinal to the brink.
"Let's give Stanford a lot of credit," Portland head coach Garrett Smith said. "That had to be one of the best games of soccer play in the country. It was a great game played by both teams and decided by one goal. It was also one of the best defensive performances of the season by our team. These are the games that we really love, but in reality only one team ends the season happy and that is the national champs. Nobody likes to lose."
After an evenly played first half that saw each team rack up six shots and five corner kicks, Stanford picked up the pace early in the second half.
Kelly O'Hara was sprung into a 1-v-1 with Pilot goalkeeper Kelsey Davis, but her shot went wide right. The Cardinal continued to apply the pressure early in the period, but Portland had a golden scoring opportunity in the 57th minute.
Sophomore midfielder Kristen Kelly made a run into the right side of the penalty box and sent a perfect cross to sophomore striker Sophie Schmidt, whose diving header ricocheted off the cross bar. Charney Burk sent the rebound to an open net, but a Stanford defender headed it off the line for a team save.
The sequence was the last major threat applied by the Pilot offense, as Stanford took control of the run of play and scoring chances thereafter.
The Cardinal appeared to take the lead in the 77th minute when a short free kick was knocked past Davis into the net, but a foul was called, negating the strike.
Sophomore forward Christen Press finally broke through in the 86th minute after numerous quality runs went for naught. Press burst through a few Pilots into the right side of the box and then blasted a shot from a sharp angle top shelf for her 16th goal of the season.
Press finished with eight shot attempts for the match, including four on goal. Megan Rapinoe paced the Pilots with four shots total.
"Obviously we're not happy about losing, but we have nothing to hang our heads about," Rapinoe said. "We played hard and had our chances and we have so much to be proud of."
The Cardinal gained a 21-10 edge in shots for the match, including a 9-3 edge in shots on goal. Portland goalkeeper Kelsey Davis thwarted numerous attacks and finished with eight saves. Stanford goalie Kira Maker stopped three shots.