Courtney Verloo scored two second-half goals Friday night as top-ranked Stanford held off No. 17 Santa Clara 2-1 to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA women's soccer tournament.
Verloo, who suffered a season-ending knee injury three days before the first game last season, got her ninth and 10th goals of 2012 at rainy Cagen Stadium.
"It feels great to finally be back," she said.
Stanford (19-1-1) will play Denver in the third round Sunday at 1 p.m. The Pioneers (17-2-4) upset No. 9 Maryland 3-2 when Nicholette Digiacomo completed a hat trick with a 28-yard shot in the first overtime period.
Santa Clara (12-4-6) gave Stanford little breathing room when closing to 2-1 with 14 minutes left on a crafty header by Dani Weatherholt. Then goalkeeper Emily Oliver blocked a promising shot in front of the net with 9:53 left as Stanford eliminated the Broncos for the third time in four years.
Santa Clara coach Jerry Smith was disappointed to lose but not in the way his team played.
"Any time you can play the national champion dead even" it's a strong performance, he said. "Verloo's second goal, you can't defend that."
Verloo struck the game-winner in the 60th minute with a blistering 25-yard shot that hit the crossbar and bounced into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
"I just saw an opening," she said. "I questioned it for a while. I thought it was going over the net."
Instead it curled inside to help Stanford extend
Stanford broke through in the 51st minute when Chioma Ubogagu held possession in the penalty box before finding Verloo. She put the ball into the right corner of the net.
"We never settled," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "But we showed great character."
Pilot Steven Holcomb raced to his second straight World Cup two-man bobsled win, pairing with Curtis Tomasevicz to edge U.S. teammates Cory Butner and Charles Berkeley (Walnut Creek) in Park City, Utah. Monterey pilot Nick Cunningham was 15th.
Wire services contributed to this report.