Even with the momentum of topping an undefeated UC Berkeley team, UP drops their first to No. 1 Stanford.
By Kyle Cape-Lindelin, Staff Writer --email@example.com
The Pilot women's soccer team's first half offensive struggles finally caught up to them in a tough 2-1 loss against No. 2 Stanford on Sept. 25 for their first defeat of the year.
Stanford was able to lock down UP's offense and didn't let up until junior Danielle Foxhoven finally poked in a loose ball past Stanford's goalkeeper in the 80th minute for her third goal of the season.
"It's disappointing we couldn't get anything going offensively in the first half but that is the difference between being the best in the country and being top 10 in the country," Head Coach Garrett Smith said following the loss.
All is not lost for the Pilots in their quest for being No. 1, however. UP topped No. 16 California 3-1 on Sept. 23 and bought themselves some cushion in the rankings, dropping only to the No. 4 spot.
Former No. 1 North Carolina lost over the weekend to No. 4 Boston College meaning that Boston College leapfrogged over UP in the rankings to be No. 2.
Because Stanford tied with both North Carolina and Boston College this season, they will be named the new No. 1 for now, while North Carolina fell to the No. 5 spot. The Pilots have lost only one game to a No. 1 team in Stanford which lands them one spot ahead of No. 5 Notre Dame, despite the fact Notre Dame has the same record as UP (10-1-0).
The Pilots' season goal is to grab one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Championship Tournament at the end of the season.
To do so, they must remain one of the top four teams. Having one of the four No. 1 seeds means home field advantage throughout the tournament until the championship game. Even with the Stanford loss, the Pilots are still in the running for one of those No. 1 spots, especially if the Pilots win out once conference play begins on Oct. 10 at Gonzaga.
"Last year our one loss to Texas A&M proved to be the one reason why we didn't get a No. 1 spot. Now even with this loss, we've played against great competition every week so the selection board will look at that heavily," Smith said.
The Pilots' victory over No. 16 Cal helps balance out the disappointing loss as they won 3-1, scoring all their goals in the second half. The Pilots have outscored opponents 17-2 in the second half of games this season.
For the third time this season, UP fell behind in the first half as Cal was able to score off of a poor UP clearance and took the lead in the 19th minute. It remained a defensive struggle until the second half of play when senior Sophie Schmidt redirected a service pass to sophomore Cloee Colohan, who bodied the ball across the goal line for the first goal of her career.
Schmidt stepped up offensively again a minute later when she buried a shot unmarked for her third goal of the season and allowed UP to take the lead 2-1. Junior Halley Kreminski scored an insurance goal in the 77th minute, beating the Cal goalkeeper around the edge of the post to score her third goal off the bench in the last four games.
"We showed a lot of composure against a very good team. To be able to score three goals unanswered in the second half showed that we never panicked," Schmidt said following the win.
Stanford shut down Portland's offense by placing constant pressure on UP's top scorers Schmidt, senior Keelin Winters and freshman Micaela Capelle.
UP had trouble staying on offense since Stanford was attacking the whole game as evidenced by the shot count, which Stanford won 17-6. UP only got off one shot in the first half.
"It was frustrating because we just couldn't get open looks. We can't beat the best team in soccer if we only get one shot in a half," Capelle said after the loss. "They kept us shadowed and pressured the whole game to keep us from reaching our comfort zone."
Junior Hailee DeYoung started as goalkeeper and made six saves but was unable to stop a high shot in the 21st minute and a close range chip shot in the 36th minute.
"It's disappointing, but they're a great team and they earned it," DeYoung said of the game. "Hopefully we'll get a chance to see them again in the tournament."
The Pilots look to bounce back against Pac-10 schools Oregon and Washington at home on Oct. 1 and 3 before beginning inter-conference play. Playing against high profile conferences and against ranked teams (UP has played six ranked teams so far) will prove helpful for the Pilots as only one team in the WCC is currently ranked, No. 10 Santa Clara.
"We have to keep challenging ourselves and getting our name out there," Smith said. "This loss hurts but its softened because we knew we lost to the best while still responding and battling."