Ten Schools in Ten Days: Stanford Women's Soccer Preview
Aug. 31, 2005
Stanford will look to extend its winning ways this season, as the Cardinal enters its third season under the guidance of head coach Paul Ratcliffe. The Cardinal has won 23 games over the past two years and made its seventh-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament last fall. With 13 letterwinners and seven starters returning from last year's squad and nine newcomers joining the team, Stanford is poised for another exciting and competitive season.
Although three-time All-American goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart is no longer on the field, she has joined the staff as a volunteer assistant coach while playing for the U.S. National Team. Barnhart will work with third-year assistant Jay Cooney as the team's three keepers challenge each other for the starting spot.
On defense, the team returns seniors Hayley Hunt and Lindsey Hunt, while Martha West was granted her fifth year and will anchor the midfield along with fellow senior Leah Tapscott. Jenny Farenbaugh is returning after missing the last third of her junior campaign with injury and will continue to be a strong force on every part of the field.
The Cardinal will rely on its experienced veterans as well as its freshmen as Stanford boasts one of the most challenging schedules in 2005. The fall slate includes 10 teams that participated in last year's NCAA Tournament, five of whom reached the NCAA Quarterfinals and two of the final-four teams. Nine of the Cardinal's opponents completed the 2004 campaign ranked in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas poll, including five teams that finished in the top-10: UCLA, Santa Clara, North Carolina, Portland and Washington.
Stanford will jump right into action, as the Cardinal opens the season on the road at Portland. After a pair of games against Bay Area rivals, San Jose State and San Francisco, the Cardinal will head to the USF and Tennessee Tournaments, where Stanford will challenge four teams that finished the 2004 campaign ranked in the top-15. The Cardinal will wrap up its East Coast trip with a match versus the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Stanford will return to the Bay Area and close out the non-conference season with the Stanford Nike Invitational, where the Cardinal will host Santa Clara and Colorado College. Stanford will then kick off Pac-10 play as the Cardinal makes a bid for its 15th NCAA appearance.
Here's a look at the 2005 Cardinal squad by position:
For the first time in three years, the goalkeeper position is open after Barnhart graduated last spring. Sophomore Erica Holland, freshman Alex Gamble and senior Elizabeth Barnard will compete for the spot.Holland saw time in three matches last season, tending the goal for 25 minutes and holding her opponents scoreless. She also picked up her first collegiate save against Denver.
Gamble will join the cast of keepers this season graduating from Temecula Valley High School in the spring. She was named First-Team All-CIF as a senior and was the recipient of the 2003 adidas Golden Glove at the USYA National Championship.
Barnard has been a steady contributor for the Cardinal over the past three years, but has seen only four games backing up her predecessor. She has a 0.00 goals-allowed average and has tallied one save in 79 minutes in the net.
'We are lucky to have this solid group of goalkeepers,' notes Ratcliffe. 'Our assistant coaches Jay Cooney and Nicole Barnhart will work with all three of them, as they challenge each other for the starting spot in the net.'
Seniors Jenny Farenbaugh, Hayley Hunt and Lindsey Hunt return to the defensive unit that allowed only 10 goals and 191 shots on the year. Lindsey Hunt will make the move to outside back after playing centerback with her twin sister the last two seasons. Junior Rachel Buehler is expected to challenge for a centerback spot along with Hayley Hunt after redshirting last season to play with the U19 World Cup team. Farenbaugh, who missed the last third of the 2004 campaign due to injury, will look to regain her position in the backfield.
Hayley Hunt, a second-team All-American last season, and Lindsey Hunt both started all 22 games last season and helped the Cardinal to 13 shutouts and the best goals-against average in the nation (.432 GAA).
Stanford's defense will also be aided by newcomers Allison Falk, a high school All-American and North Coast Section Player of the Year, and Marissa Abegg, Oregon's Gatorade Player of the Year.
Senior Megan Alderete, who has struggled with injury during her first three seasons, will add extra depth to the Cardinal defense.
'Our defensive unit is very strong and experienced,' says Ratcliffe, 'They have spent a lot of time playing with each other and they are so instinctive on the field.'
Stanford will have tremendous depth at midfield, as senior Leah Tapscott, junior Shari Summers and sophomore Lizzy George all return from last year's squad.
Tapscott is the top-returning scorer from last season's squad, as she tallied five goals and five assists in 2004. Tapscott posted three game-winning goals last season and will look to contribute even more on the scoring front this year.
Summers missed most of her freshman year with injury, but she had a solid sophomore campaign and contributed five points last year. George had an outstanding rookie season and was the third-leading scorer on the team with 11 points on five goals and one assist. George scored her first collegiate goal with the game-winner against Nebraska and added the game-winning goal against Cal Poly in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore April Wall, who missed six games in the 2004 season with injury, spent the remainder of her freshman campaign at defender.
Also back for the 2005 season are junior Melissa Esparza and sophomore Mimi Yuhas. Esparza, who joined the team last fall, appeared in four games, while Yuhas redshirted her first season. Freshmen Kelley Birch and Austinn Freeman round out the midfield mix, as will both challenge for playing time. Birch was the CIF Player of the Year, while local standout Freeman was name the CCS Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
'We have an incredibly deep and talented midfield this fall,' comments Ratcliffe. 'Our returners gained a lot of experience last season and we have a fantastic group of freshmen coming in. We really expect them to challenge each other, but also form a cohesive group that will work well together.'
Stanford lost three forwards to graduation, but redshirt senior Martha West and junior Gina Farias-Eisner will lead the Cardinal offense this fall. Last year, West scored three goals last season, including one game-winner, while Farias-Eisner added one goal.
Newcomer Hillary Heath, Washington's Gatorade Player of the Year, will challenge for a spot at forward, while fellow freshmen Lea MacKinnon, a two-time all-state selection, Kate Mannino, a member of the Washington ODP team since 2000, and Lauren Shapiro, the All-Arizona Player of the Year, will all seek playing time on the offensive side of the field.
'We have a solid group of forwards who will see playing time this year,' notes Ratcliffe. 'Our experienced players will provide a great balance for us, while our freshmen will bring a lot to the group, as well.'
RELATED NEWS & VIDEOS
TODAY | 1:00pm PTLive