D-I Quarters Sidebar: O'Hara And Press Lead Stanford Soccer
Nov. 28, 2009
Sports Media Exchange
Palo Alto, Calif. - Boston College coach Alison Kulik has seen a lot of outstanding goal-scorers in the Atlantic Coast Conference, considered the best women's soccer conference in the country, but Stanford's Kelley O'Hara and Chirsten Press showed her something she does not see in the ACC.
"They are two of the most prolific scorers in the country," Kulik said. "There are a lot of scorers in the ACC, but not on the same team. As a pair, they are two of the best in the country. And this was typical behavior for them tonight."
Typical behavior in this case consisted of two goals by O'Hara, who leads the county in goals scored with 25 and in points with 63, and two assists and a goal by Press, who is sixth nationally in goals with 20 and third in points with 55. Press has four goals and two assists in Stanford's four postseason games, and O'Hara has two goals and four assists in those same four games after getting three goals in the final regular-season game against California.
Those two combined to produce all three goals in the Cardinal's 3-1 victory over Boston College on Friday at Stanford. Much of their effectiveness is their ability to perform well together because they are so familiar with each other's game. They come from opposite coasts - O'Hara is from Fayetteville, Ga., and Press is from Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. - and have dissimilar builds - O'Hara is relatively short and Press is tall -- but they have come to know each other well on the soccer field. They participated in a number of the same camps last year, and both were members of the USA Under-23 team that played in Northern Ireland and Ireland in May 2009. They also were teammates on the Pali Blues, a team from Pacific Palisades, Calif., that won its second straight W-League USL title in August.
"Last year, we played so much together," Press, a junior, said. "We know each other so well. I know what she's thinking. We're good friends, and it creates good chemistry."
Press' passes set up both of O'Hara's goal on Friday, and with her 15 assists this season, Press set a Stanford single-season record.
"We have done a great job of learning each other's tendencies," O'Hara said. O'Hara, a senior, was named Pac-10 player of the year and is a candidate for the Hermann Trophy, which goes to the nation's top player.
"And Kelley is also the hardest worker," Kulik said. "A lot of times top scorers will pick and choose their time, but not Kelley. She's always tracking back in the back third."
They enable Stanford to apply constant pressure. Each took 10 shots against Boston College, which had only five shots as a team.
"It's a credit to them," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "They're so unselfish. They help each other be better. Hopefully they can lead us to the national championship."
If Stanford should win the national title it would become only the second team to go through an entire season undefeated. North Carolina has done it four times, but no other school has done it once.
Last season, Stanford lost in the semifinals to Notre Dame. O'Hara took eight shots in that game, including four that were on goal, but was unable to score as Stanford lost 1-0.
This year's national semifinals and final, known as the College Cup, will be played Dec. 4 and 6 at College Station, Texas, and Stanford will play the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal game between UCLA and Portland in the semifinals. The day after the championship game, O'Hara will fly from Texas back to Los Angeles to participate in a USA national team camp that will include 24 of nation's best players.