The Stanford’s offense has proven itself all season long. One offensive weapon, in particular, junior forward Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, has shown she can perform in pressure situations and be a threat against Duke tonight.
Walker-Hartshorn is an Oakland native from Bishop O’Dowd High School. She led her club team Mustang Blast to two state and regional championships, as well as the 2011 national title. On Saturday against the University of Arizona in the third round of the 2015 Women’s College Cup , Walker-Hartshorn shined as one of the top strikers by scoring two insurance goals in the 77th and 89th minutes.
“The first goal was a bit of a scramble,” Walker-Hartshorn said.
Her first shot was blocked, and after bouncing around the Arizona six-yard box, the ball found its way back to Walker-Hartshorn and she placed a shot into the left side of the net.
Walker-Hartshorn’s second goal came off an assist from freshman forward Kyra Carusa. Walker-Hartshorn fired a left-footed shot into the right corner of the net.
“I was just there in the perfect place, perfect time,” Walker-Hartshorn said.
Last year, Walker-Hartshorn scored two game-winning goals. This year, she scored the game-winning goal at Cal Poly on September 4th. With her confidence and habit of rising up during crunch time, it would not be a surprise if she continues to come up big for Stanford in the College Cup.
“A lot of situations I find myself in during games, I have practiced before in repetition,” Walker-Hartshorn said. “It’s high pressure, but you can’t let what’s in your head get the best of you.”
Stanford’s offense as a whole has maintained a more-than-steady lead over its opponents in almost all categories. The Cardinal averages 19 shots per game against 6.7 from its opponents and 1.91 goals scored per game against 0.55. Walker-Hartshorn attributes her own success and the success of the Cardinal this season to the overall team bond and chemistry.
“Everything we’ve accomplished is because of every single person on this team.”
Eight teams remain in the NCAA Women’s College Cup and Stanford is the lone team from California. The Cardinal will take on Duke tonight at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium for a spot in the semifinals.
As preparation for Friday night, Stanford watched Duke defeat the University of Florida 2-1 Sunday and has been watching film. Florida had almost the same record as Stanford going into the match, (19-3-1).
“It’ll be a really great game,” Walker-Hartshorn said. “We’ve been practicing all week, we will be great and ready to go.”
Fortunately for Walker-Hartshorn, tonight’s match being at home means she can have the support of her family, which includes two Stanford alumni. She and the majority of the team got to spend Thanksgiving at home instead of travel.
“It’s always hard to play away, especially during playoffs,” Walker-Hartshorn said. “We have a really great momentum, fans, and atmosphere at home, so we are all blessed.”
Friday’s match can be viewed on Pac-12 Network at 7 p.m.