By Dan Trujillo
Lauren Rood says pressure is a privilege.
“You can’t be afraid to fail,” she said. “You have to be able to look at failure straight on and say, ‘Not today. I’ve worked too hard for this.’”
The goalkeeper from Camas took pressure head on every single day as a member of the NCAA championship clinching Stanford University women’s soccer team. And the Cardinal passed with flying colors.
Rood collected 13 saves in 10 games. She allowed just two goals all season, which converts to a 0.22 goals against average. Stanford went 9-0 in the games Rood defended the goal, and the sophomore helped preserve seven shutouts.
“She was a major contributor. Her work ethic and dedication to the team was tremendous,” said head coach Paul Ratcliffe. “She had some big performances throughout the season that helped propel us to the championship.”
Rood made first career start on Aug. 20 against Wisconsin. Stanford won 1-0, and Rood secured her first shutout.
“I was beyond excited,” Rood recalled. “I told myself, ‘Get through the first five minutes. Get that first touch on the ball.’ Once I get that first touch, I’m locked in and I know that everything is going to be fine.”
She earned two saves in wins against Santa Clara, Sept. 17, and Arizona, Sept. 28. And then three saves in victories over Washington, Oct. 13, and Oregon State, Oct. 22. Between Sept. 21 and Oct. 29, Stanford played 788 minutes, 28 seconds without allowing a goal.
According to her player profile, Rood made a “miraculous save” to preserve a 1-0 lead late in the game against Washington. Following that performance, the Pacific-12 Conference selected Rood as Goalkeeper of the Week.
“As a goalkeeper, you have to wait and wait and wait and stay locked in,” Rood said. “It could be the 85th minute, or the final seconds of the game, when they get a breakaway. You have to be ready to save the ball. That’s why you train and why you play.”
Stanford clinched its third straight Pac-12 championship, but the women wanted to achieve more. Unfortunately, Rood suffered a concussion in training and was unable to contribute on the field. She never missed a practice or a game, and finally made her first postseason appearance Nov. 24, against Penn State. Stanford won 4-0, and Rood shared the shutout with Alison Jahansouz.
“My coach didn’t want to rush me back, or change the lineup, and I respected that,” Rood said. “Once I was able to start training again, I felt like I was back with the team.
“We pushed each other every single day, and we made each other better,” she added. “It was such a great atmosphere to be in. Every single day, you have to prove yourself.”
It all came to a head Dec. 3, when Stanford defeated UCLA, 3-2, for the NCAA championship, in Orlando, Florida.
“Our ultimate dream was to win the national championship,” Rood said. “That one moment was worth all the hard work that we put into the season.”
On Oct. 10, the Stanford men’s soccer team outlasted Indiana, 1-0 in double overtime, to capture the NCAA championship, in Chester, Pennsylvania. Ratcliffe said this was the first time a Pac-12 college won two national soccer titles in the same season.
Before this blossomed into a championship season, Rood believes the seeds were planted after a 3-2 loss to the University of Florida, three games from the start.
“It was a big wake up call for our team,” she said. “We have great players, but every single day, you have to show up and give everything you have in your heart. We never wanted to feel like that again. That was motivation every day.”
The women rebounded, finished the season 24-1 and rose the national championship. It was a season Rood will never forget. One that sets a new standard at Stanford.
“Embrace the moments you have every step of the way, even the bad ones,” Rood said. “Pressure is a privilege. You have to be able to manage those failures and turn them into success later.”