It's been a while since the Stanford women's soccer team has had to plan for the final weekend of the season. This time around the Cardinal wasn't taking any chances.
Catarina Macario gave Stanford a 1-0 lead in the second minute Friday and that only seemed to ignite the offense en route to a 4-0 victory over visiting Penn State in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA championship.
The Nittany Lions won the title and handed Stanford its last regular-season home loss in 2015.
The Cardinal is 37-1-4 (losing only to Santa Clara, in overtime, in last year's NCAA tournament) in home games in regular and postseason play since that loss to Penn State.
Top-seeded Stanford (22-1), which advances to its first College Cup in three years and its eighth overall, scored all four of its goals in the first 25 minutes on Friday.
"Today definitely wasn't easy. Penn State is a fantastic team and they've had a great season," Cardinal coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "We started so fast and scored some incredible goals, but we also possessed the ball really well to kill off the game. Overall, it was a very strong all-around team performance."
Stanford meets South Carolina (19-2-1), also a No. 1 seed, at the Orlando City Stadium in Florida on Friday at a time to be determined in one semifinal. In the other, Duke will take on the winner of Saturday's game between UCLA and Princeton.
The Cardinal was on top, 3-0, after 12 minutes, stretching the lead to 4-0 in the 25th minute when Krya Carusa stabbed home an inch-perfect through ball from Macario.
Carusa, Macario and Menlo School grad Jaye Boissiere each finished with one goal and one assist, and Andi Sullivan added a goal for Stanford, which has won 20 straight.
"Cat is so special and you see that every second she's playing," Sullivan said. "She's the complete package. She's got flair. She's got precision. She has everything."
Alison Jahansouz picked up the win in 75 minutes of play, finishing with two saves, including a fantastic reaction save in the eighth minute to help preserve the shutout.
Macario opened the scoring with one of her trademark free kicks in the second minute. With Stanford threatening the penalty area, the Nittany Lions (15-5-4, 6-2-3 Big 10) conceded the foul after a handball just outside the box. Macario got the ball up and over the wall with a powerful curled shot into the top corner, well away from the reach of goalkeeper Rose Chandler.
Sullivan scored nine minutes later. Boissiere stood over a free kick in a dangerous area, playing it short to an open Sullivan in space. Sullivan beat two defenders before sweeping home a smart finish inside the far post with her weaker left foot.
Boissiere scored after a tireless run by Carusa to set her up. Carusa took on her marker on the edge of the area, reaching the end line and laying it off to Boissiere for a precise one-time finish inside the far post.
At 25 minutes, Carusa made it 4-0 off a ridiculous feed from Macario. Macario's slide-rule pass rolled out of reach of Penn State defenders, and Carusa got a boot on the ball to slide it under Chandler for Stanford's fourth of the day.
"It's a young team but they're very talented and playing beyond their years," Ratcliffe said. "They're getting better and better and better."
The Cardinal outshot the Nittany Lions 16-6, including a 9-2 advantage in shots on goal and a 5-2 lead in corner kicks. It was Stanford's NCAA-leading 17th shutout of the season, and the 14th home shutout in 15 appearances.