Waves of tension clouded the intimate Negoesco Stadium on Sunday night as fans took to the stands to look on as both the San Francisco Dons and Stanford Cardinal put their four-match winning streaks on the line. Supporters of both teams filed in to form a record crowd of 1,600 to show their colors as the Dons aimed to earn their first win in 20 matches against the No. 3 Stanford Cardinal.
An aggressive energy emanated from the Dons as they jolted their way onto the Cardinal side for the first minute of the match. This was a short-lived attack, as Stanford forward Beattie Goad established possession in the midfield to set up a counter attack through Madison Haley, which ultimately landed Catarina Macario with a goal within the first two minutes. This set the tone of the match early on, as the Cardinal would consistently overrun the Dons in the midfield, dominating possession and spreading passes around the field. Macario would ultimately record a hat trick.
The Cardinal kept senior Dons Goalkeeper (and reigning West Coast Conference Player of the Week) Olivia Camera busy, peppering her with nine shots on goal before she was lifted and replaced in the 55th minute after letting in six goals. Her replacement, redshirt sophomore Molly Eby, did not fare much better, recording five saves while allowing three more Cardinal goals.
Camera navigated the Dons to shutouts in their previous three matches.
Dons head coach Jim Millinder set his team up to take the fight straight to the Cardinal, employing a high press to try to create scoring chances through attacking Stanford’s back line. The tactic did not work, as the Cardinal used the gaps in the Dons’ formation to control possession and pick out passes with comfort. Facing a 4-0 deficit at half time, Coach Millinder stuck to his plan in the second half — to little success — as the Dons still found themselves on the back foot.
“It’s one game, and it was a big match for us. We just didn’t show up today and do the right things, but there’s a lot more matches to play,” Milinder said after full time. “Stanford’s an excellent team and they’re a tough out, but if you would’ve asked me if it would’ve been 9-0 today I never would’ve thought [that] in a million years.”
“It’s one game, and it was a big match for us. We just didn’t show up today and do the right things, but there’s a lot more matches to play.”Coach Jim Millinder
The final score of 9-0 was the largest defeat the Dons have ever suffered against Stanford, edging out the previous record, when the Dons lost 8-0 against the Cardinal in 2017. It is the Dons’ worst loss since losing 9-0 to the Santa Clara University Broncos in 2013.
Despite the harsh scoreline, Millinder is optimistic that the Dons can reach the postseason this year. The Dons have several wins, including the matches against University of Hawai‘i (3-2), San Diego State University (1-0), University of Illinois (3-0), and the University of California, Riverside (5-0) under their belts. They have respectable losses to No. 4 University of Southern California (2-0) and now No. 3 Stanford (9-0). The Dons head out to Massachusetts this weekend to play Harvard University on Sept. 13 and Northeastern University on Sept. 15.