2001 Women's Soccer Outlook
Stanford, Calif. - Head coach Andy Nelson has a lot to be excited about in only his second season with the Stanford women's soccer program. With eight starters returning from last season's NCAA Tournament team, the 2001 Cardinal look to advance to the postseason for the fourth straight year and 11th time in the last 12 seasons. Stanford finished the 2000 season with a 14-6-1 overall record (6-3 Pac-10) and a No. 20 ranking in the final NSCAA poll.
Fifteen letterwinners return, including three seniors, and are joined by a highly touted freshmen class that ranks ninth in the nation. Sophomore Marcie Ward and senior Amy Sauer were both named to the West Region All-America team and the Cardinal has four athletes returning who earned All-Pac-10 accolades. Ward was also named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year last season. 'We are still a young team, but we do have a lot of experienced players returning,' said Nelson.
'We have several players that have had experience outside of Stanford with Under-21 National Teams. We are a young squad that is very motivated and has the ability to go all the way. We need to make sure we pay attention to all the details and not think about what is down the road, but really just think about the next game.'
Senior co-captain Amy Sauer will be an important key to Stanford's success in 2001. Sauer, who runs the show from the back, is the team leader on the field. Nelson believes it is important for goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart to step in as a sophomore and take over the starting role for graduated All-Pac-10 keeper Carly Smolak. Junior Callie Withers also has the ability to make a huge difference with her physical presence for the Cardinal as well as sophomore Ally Marquand, who returns from an ACL injury.
Two freshman and a pair of sophomores led the Cardinal in scoring in 2000. Marcie Ward not only led the team in scoring with 14 goals and 14 assists, but broke the Stanford single-season assist record held by U.S. National Team member Julie Foudy. Marcia Wallis and Ward combined for 72 points last season, nearly 50 percent of Stanford's offense. Defender Amy Sauer was the anchor of the Cardinal's defense, which posted 10 shutouts while giving up just 27 goals in 21 matches last year.
Here's a look at the team by position:
Stanford's non-conference schedule will challenge the young team in its first two weeks of the season. The Cardinal will open up in Gainesville, against a tough Florida squad. 'Florida is good at every position. We will find out real early just how good we are. Then we have to go right to Texas before our home opener against Notre Dame,' said Nelson. Stanford's first home game of the 2001 season will match them against women's soccer powerhouse Notre Dame. Dartmouth and Dayton will then come to town for the annual Stanford Tournament, followed by the Santa Clara Tournament. Playing in the Pac-10 ensures a tough and demanding schedule for the Cardinal. Seven Pac-10 squads made it to the 2000 NCAA Tournament, with conference rival UCLA competing in the championship match. Stanford begins Pac-10 play October 12 at Oregon State.
'We will learn a lot the first few weeks of the season. Our non-conference games will prepare us very well for the Pac-10 and the NCAA Tournament. There are no easy games on our schedule,' said Nelson.