Nov. 19, 2011
By Miquel Jacobs
Assistant Media Relations Director
PALO ALTO, Calif. – Top-ranked and unbeaten Stanford proved too much for the SEC Champion South Carolina Gamecocks in a 2-0 victory Friday night in NCAA Second Round action at Cagan Stadium.
“Obviously we knew Stanford was a very good team,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “They showed that and proved that tonight. I’d think it would be hard for anyone in the country to beat them. A lot of credit to them to come out, do what they did and finish chances. I thought our team played very well. We made it hard for them to find that first goal. Credit to them to put away the opportunities but we can walk off the field with our heads held high because of our effort. “
The Gamecocks (16-7-0) held top-ranked Stanford (21-0-1) to their third-lowest scoring output of the season, and freshman goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo cemented her reputation as one of the top young Canadian goalkeepers with a stellar effort between the pipes with six saves. The loss ends Carolina’s run in the tournament – and third consecutive season in the NCAA Second Round – as the Gamecock senior class will leave Columbia as the winningest class in program history with a four-year mark of 61-24-10.
Stanford improved its home-unbeaten streak to 48 matches and won their 19th-consecutive match with goals by Mariah Nogueira and Taylor McCann.
“We proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Smith said of the 2011 SEC Championship season. “Winning the SEC was an amazing accomplishment. This team deserved that, and they deserved to be here and play the number one team. Obviously we wish we were moving on, but we’re very happy with our performances all season with the way the team came together and learned from their experiences all year. The team that played tonight is 10-times the team that started the season, and you can’t ask for anything more than that. I’m sad to see them finish, but you couldn’t be more proud.”
The teams went into the half with Stanford holding a 1-0 lead courtesy of a goal headed home by Mariah Nogueira at 33:46 on a Teresa Noyola free kick. The Cardinal earned the set piece after a handball called on the Gamecocks on the right flank in front of the corner flag.
The match kicked off at 10:26 p.m. (ET) after the first match between Boston College and California went to a penalty kick shootout. As the teams lined up for the opening kickoff, the skies opened and a heavy rainstorm hit Cagan Stadium on a chilly 51-degree night in Palo Alto. The top-ranked Cardinal raced out to assert advantage but were met early by the SEC’s top defensive unit with the first two shots blocked by the backline. Six of Stanford’s 15 first half shots were blocked by the backline, but the 15-1 shot edge at the break was indicative of the tall order the Gamecocks had in gaining control against the Cardinal.
Both teams had good looks in the opening 10 minutes as Kayla Grimsley and Danielle Au led a 2v3 in the eighth minute that was picked up by the Stanford goalkeeper, and Stanford’s Kendall Romine had a blast from midfield in the ninth minute that clanged off the crossbar. Stanford nearly put the first goal in in the 18th minute after Kristy Zurmuhlen got herself in a breakaway situation inside the penalty area, but the weather showed its influence with her cross meeting no one as a Gamecock defender and Cardinal attacker both slipped on the grass.
Stanford had a scare in the 26th minute when All-American Lindsay Taylor collided with D’Angelo on a challenge off a free kick that saw Taylor lay on the ground for one minute to collect herself. Four minutes later, Nogueira hit a header from range but couldn’t get it past a diving D’Angelo. She eventually scored three minutes later and almost doubled it in the 36th with an exact replica of the scoring play, but Andie Romness saved the ball off the line.
The opening 20 minutes of the second half saw a near even effort by the Gamecocks against the Cardinal with the rain no longer falling. Grimsley earned her first 1v1 chance in the 54th but was fouled after beating her defender to set up a free kick. Christa Neary was able to get the Gamecock look on the set piece, but her shot was blocked by a defender’s back to keep the Gamecocks away from frame. Danielle Au had a look at the top of the ’18 in the 60th but sent her attempt over the crossbar.
Teresa Noyola gave Stanford its first chance to double its lead in the 65th when she found herself alone from 12 yards in front of the goal, but D’Angelo came up with the point-blank save to keep the All-American off the board. Stanford would eventually get the goal two minutes later when Taylor McCann sent one curling into the upper corner of the net.