STANFORD, Calif. –
For the eighth time in 11 years, and ninth time overall, the Stanford women's soccer team will be playing in the College Cup.
Goals by Civana Kuhlman and Catarino Macario propelled Stanford to a 2-0 victory over Tennessee in an NCAA quarterfinal at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium on Friday and goalkeeper Alison Jahansouz
topped it off with a late penalty-kick save.
Stanford (21-0-2), the defending national champion, next plays Florida State (18-4-3), a 1-0 winner over Penn State, in the NCAA semifinals in Cary, North Carolina, on Friday, Nov. 30.
The Cardinal extended its unbeaten streak to 45 and improved its home record in the NCAA tournament to 36-1-2 since 2008.
The team, which has battled injuries to key players, is getting healthy at the right time, as evidenced by the return of Tegan McGrady
and Madison Haley
, who came off the bench. And Tierna Davidson
, Stanford's U.S. national team midfielder, was in uniform for the first time since Sept. 9.
"Tierna hopefully will be available for the College Cup," said Paul Ratcliffe
, in his 16th
season as coach and the Knowles Family Director of Women's Soccer. "But she's still building up her fitness. So, we'll see how she's looking."
Overcoming adversity with great depth has been Stanford's trademark this season, and Macario, who missed five matches, looked as good as ever. She provided the assist on Kuhlman's goal, at 26:04. It was Macario's school-record ninth career postseason assist. She later provided a clinical finish to a Jaye Boissiere
pass at 58:12.
"Catarina was really dynamic out there," Ratcliffe said. "She is amazing. She's got magic skills. She's so much fun to watch, I love watching her play. She's incredible and she makes everyone around her better.
"She's the ultimate college player that you could ever coach. She's a once in a lifetime player."
As Macario dribbled to the top of the box, she drew Kuhlman's marker and then laid the ball off to Kuhlman with a short pass. Kuhlman buried a hard shot from 10 yards for her seventh goal of the season.
Macario had chances throughout the match -- she had nine of Stanford's 30 shots and then scored her 14th
goal of the season with a low shot just inside the left post from just inside the top of the box.
"J. Boss was dribbling down and I tried open up, and give her room to do her thing or make myself an option," Macario said. "She played me the ball and there was one girl in front. I saw a little gap in between. I tried hitting it through her legs."
She didn't quite do that, but it was close. The rest of the match was an exhibition by the Stanford defense. Kiki Pickett
had an outstanding match at left back and her intensity and effort was a big part of the Cardinal earning its 15th
shutout of the season.
"She's probably the toughest one on our team," Ratcliffe said.
Stanford, largely because of the play of central defenders Alana Cook
and Naomi Girma
, shut down Tennessee's Bunny Shaw, who recently helped Jamaica qualify for its first World Cup.
Shaw (13 goals this season), had five shots, including a second-half one-on-one chip attempt over Jahansouz. The goalkeeper stabbed at the ball with her right arm and blocked it. Jahansouz had six saves, a career high for the fifth-year senior in her final home match, but none bigger than on a 78th
After a handball, Tennessee's Katie Cousins lined up the shot. Jahansouz read it perfectly, anticipating a shot to her right and made a two-handed diving save.
"A.J. came up huge," Ratcliffe said. "Momentum could have swung there and it could have been a hard last 10 minutes."
Jahansouz played it according to the scouting report.
"She played right into my hands, so to speak," Jahansouz said. "The penalty is always in favor of the kicker, no matter how much you look at it. For me, it's not much of a high-pressure situation. I just put myself in the best position possible to make a save."
The quality of play, even on a wet field and mostly in a light rain, was high for Stanford and a great sign going into a third semifinal matchup against the Seminoles. Stanford won in 3-0 in 2011 and Florida State won 2-0 in 2014. The winner, in both cases, went on to win the national title.
"I hope this game gives us a lot of confidence," Ratcliffe said. "It's been a buildup to the whole season. They've come through and gotten better and better and better.
"To get to the College Cup is huge emotionally for the team, it's a huge goal of theirs. They played some really good soccer and the goals were just fantastic. It was a great afternoon."
- Stanford's 45-game unbeaten streak dates to Aug. 25, 2017, and is the fifth longest in NCAA history. It is the longest streak by any non-North Carolina team in history and the longest since the Tar Heels went 70 games unbeaten from 1996-98.
- Kuhlmann's goal was her fourth in five appearances.
- Macario's assist was her ninth career postseason assist, the most in program history by two.
- Stanford's senior class finishes its four-year stretch with a 50-2-4 record at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.