Widgets Magazine

Women’s soccer falls to Duke on penalty kicks in NCAA Quarterfinals

For the second consecutive season, Stanford women’s soccer‘s last game at Cagan Stadium was decided by a Jane Campbell penalty kick in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

Michelle Xiao (5)

Freshman Michelle Xiao (above) scored Stanford’s lone goal against Duke in the 39th minute, beating a defender before firing a powerful shot around Blue Devil goalkeeper EJ Proctor. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

But this time, Campbell’s kick was saved on a chilly Friday night, and the No. 3 Cardinal (19-2-2, 10-0-1 Pac-12) lost to No. 20 Duke (13-5-5, 4-3-3 ACC) in a 3-2 penalty shootout after being tied 1-1 after 110 minutes of play. The loss to the Blue Devils keeps the Cardinal out of the College Cup for just the second time in the last eight seasons.

From the start of the game, both teams were tenacious on defense, playing strong up the middle of the pitch and preventing the other team from building up play. The defensive struggle up the middle soon transitioned into an exhilarating, free-flowing game up the flanks of the field.

The Blue Devils struck first in the 14th minute, when Casey Martinez’s through ball made it past several players and into the goal box. Though Campbell was able to turn it away, Toni Payne pounced on the rebound and side-footed it into the net to open the scoring.

After recording the early goal, Duke started to sit back on defense, and the Cardinal had to contend with a packed middle of the field.

“Duke sat in and made it hard, kept a lot of numbers behind the ball,” said Cardinal head coach Paul Ratcliffe after the match. “That being said, we got 22 shots, and we needed to finish some of those chances.”

Ratcliffe made heavy rotations on the wings in an attempt to find the right matchups. His last substitution of the half brought on junior forward Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, a move that sent Michelle Xiao from the left side to the right, where she has occasionally played this season as an inverted winger.

Ryan Walker-Hartshorn (8)

Junior forward Ryan Walker-Hartshorn (above) was a late first-half substitution for Stanford that greatly helped Stanford. Her presence in the game sent fellow forward Xiao to the right side, where she quickly managed to score for the Cardinal. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

The move paid off quickly, as Xiao leveled the game in the 39th minute on a beautiful individual goal. The freshman took the ball just inside the right half of the penalty box, cut inside onto her stronger left foot and curved a powerful shot around Blue Devils goalkeeper EJ Proctor.

Though the rest of the game was scoreless, both teams missed key opportunities to add to their tally. The Cardinal came closest in the 83th minute, when junior defender Maddie Bauer headed a Xiao corner into the crossbar before Proctor miraculously swatted the ball clear.

The Blue Devils nearly struck in the first overtime period on a bizarre play. Blue Devils midfielder Ashton Miller hit a long, knuckling shot toward goal, which Campbell awkwardly batted away. The ball bounced twice dangerously close to the goal before a lunging Campbell knocked it out of harm’s way.

While the young Cardinal squad had an impressive 4-0-1 record in overtime contests this season, it had not seen a game go to penalty kicks since the NCAA quarterfinal last season. This inexperience may have led to the Cardinal’s nervy start to the shootout, as sophomores Andi Sullivan and Kyra Carusa failed to convert their kicks while Duke’s Christina Gibbons made hers to give the Blue Devils a 1-0 lead.

Maddie Bauer (4)

Junior defender Maddie Bauer (center) almost put the Cardinal ahead in the 83rd minute, heading a Michelle Xiao corner off the crossbar before it nearly crossed the goalline. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Despite the slow start, the Cardinal kept themselves in striking distance, as Campbell saved Rebecca Quinn’s kick to keep the deficit at 1. Xiao and fifth-year senior Haley Rosen each took their penalties confidently, but the Blue Devils responded to each with made penalties of their own, taking a 3-2 lead heading into the decisive fifth round. Proctor guessed correctly on Campbell’s kick, turning the shot away with her left hand and sending the Blue Devils into the College Cup.

The loss ends a season in which Stanford’s youth, which many thought would cause the team to struggle, was its greatest asset. Next season, the Cardinal return nine of their 11 regular starters, including extremely talented freshman and sophomore classes that accounted for 29 of the team’s 43 goals. For the team’s young core, a loss like Friday’s could be an important stepping stone to future success.

“Going through these types of experiences is what makes you a champion ultimately,” Ratcliffe noted. “You have more motivation after going through this pain, and you have to have adversity to grow.”

Contact Sanjay Srinivas at sanjay_srinivas ‘at’ stanford.edu.