Nov. 14, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. - The Big West Tournament champion UC Santa Barbara women's soccer team could not overcome the offensive onslaught put forth by No. 5 Stanford and fell, 2-0, Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Championships at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium. The Cardinal struck for goals twice in the second half and finished with a commanding 30-5 advantage in shots.
UCSB, playing in its first NCAA tourney match since 1991, ended the season with a 12-7-3 record. Stanford, competing in the tournament for the 11th consecutive season, sits at 19-1-1 and will take on Kansas in second round action on Sunday.
"I'm exceptionally proud of my team the way they played their hearts out all night long - they have to get some credit for that," said 10th-year UCSB head coach Paul Stumpf. "I can't thank them (the team) enough for their efforts at fulfilling a dream of ours of getting back to this tournament. I think this is a pretty special group of kids - you saw them tonight just lay their hearts on the line. They played 90 minutes against an exceptional soccer team. I'm disappointed like crazy, but I feel so fortunate to have such a quality group of kids in my life."
One huge bright spot for the Gauchos proved to be freshman goalkeeper Ali Cutler, who was called on to make a career-high 11 saves. She equaled her previous career-high of eight in the second half.
"She (Cutler) played a great game, especially considering she's a freshman," commented Stumpf. "Our whole team is young - we basically played two seniors and two juniors. Seven of our players are freshmen and sophomores."
Stanford got all it would need with a goal at the 51:37 mark of the second half. Following a turnover in the penalty box, Christen Press made the Gauchos pay and deposited the ball past Cutler into the lower-left corner of the net for her 14th goal of the season. Press led all players with 13 total shots, five of those on net.
Press figured in the second score by the Cardinal as well. Her corner kick found Allison Falk in front, who headed the ball of the crossbar and into the goal at 78:20. Press' three-point game gave her a team-leading 38 points for the year.
"Christen had a great game," said Cardinal head coach Paul Ratcliffe. "Our team created several quality chances on a solid Santa Barbara team. We're happy with the 2-0 result, but now we have to move on and focus on Sunday's game."
The match remained scoreless after the opening half with Stanford out-shooting Santa Barbara 13-2. The Gauchos got their two shots back-to-back, the first from Nicole Romanowski (blocked by the defense) and the second seven seconds later by Sarah Stoltz (over the crossbar).
The second half was more of the same with the Cardinal getting off 17 shots to UCSB's three. Romanowski, Jacqui Simon, and Kailyn Kugler had shots for the Gauchos, but none were on goal. It was the 11th shutout of the season for Stanford keeper Kira Maker.
It was the first time since 1994 that UCSB and Stanford had met. With tonight's loss, Santa Barbara still holds a 6-5-2 edge over the Cardinal.
"One of the things for us that we think is really important is that as much as we wanted to win tonight, we look at the future of our program that's now gone through a conference title run, a conference tournament championship, and an NCAA playoff game," said Stumpf. "The experience that our young team has gotten this season has been invaluable, and we are very excited about the future."
- UCSBgauchos.com -