No. 17 Stanford Hosts Oregon State and Oregon

Oct. 24, 2006

Stanford, Calif. -

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This Week: The Stanford women's soccer team returns home to face the Oregon schools this weekend, looking for its third-straight conference sweep. Friday night, the Cardinal meets the Oregon State Beavers in a 7 p.m. match at Maloney Field. On Sunday, in a 1 p.m. start, the squad will face off with the Oregon Ducks, one of the conference's two remaining unbeaten teams. Sunday's match will be preceded by a Senior Day ceremony, honoring Cardinal seniors Shari Summers and Melissa Esparza.

On The Horizon: The final match of the regular-season for the Cardinal will be the annual clash with Cal, set for Sunday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. The squads will meet at Edwards Stadium/Goldman Field in Berkeley, with the Cardinal looking to avenge last year's 2-0 loss to the Golden Bears. The NCAA Tournament field will be set on Nov. 6, with postseason action beginning Nov. 10.

So Far This Season: Stanford is 11-5-1 so far in 2006, has shutout opponents in 11 matches and out-shot them 15 times. During the opening weekend, the Cardinal dropped two close matches to Utah and No. 23 Wake Forest at the Santa Clara/adidas Classic. Stanford then cruised past San Francisco, Cal Poly, Rutgers and Long Island, holding all four opponents scoreless. At the Stanford Nike Invitational, Stanford was edged by No. 10 Tennessee, 1-0, before blanking No. 24 Boston University, 3-0. On Sept. 22, Stanford topped UC Irvine 2-0, while out-shooting the Anteaters 27-1. Two days later, Stanford dropped San Diego State, 4-0, behind two first half goals by senior Shari Summers. On Sept. 30, the Cardinal out-shot No. 3 Santa Clara 15-2, and held the Broncos to by far their lowest shot total of the season, but fell 2-0. Stanford opened up conference action with a tie against No. 19 USC and a loss to No. 4 UCLA. Since then, the Cardinal has won four-straight conference matches, topping Arizona State and blanking Arizona, Washington State and Washington.

Cruising Through the Conference: With its second-straight conference sweep this weekend, the Cardinal is on its best Pac-10 run in four years. The current four-game conference winning streak is the longest since 2002, when the Cardinal went undefeated in conference play, 21-1-1 overall, won the Pac-10 Championship and reached the NCAA quarterfinals. Additionally, Stanford is on its way to its most prolific offensive output since that famed season, and, with a third of the conference games remaining, has already surpassed its conference goal totals for 2004 and 2005.

Steppin' It Up: With the graduation of two of 2005's top three scorers, the Cardinal was looking for a new source of offense this season. So far, a number of Cardinal returners have stepped up to fill that role, as multiple players have already posted career-best seasons. With six goals in 2006, senior Shari Summers has already more than doubled her previous career total of five. Sophomore Allison Falk, who came into the season with just one point, has registered five points in the last four games alone. Sophomore Hillary Heath has already doubled her goal total from last year and is currently one of the Pac-10 assist leaders with five, four more than her total last season. Sophomore Lea MacKinnon, who entered the season without a career point, has already racked up eight this season, with a goal and a team-high six assists. With three regular-season games remaining, the Cardinal offense has already increased its offensive output from last season by more than 40 percent, with 30 goals compared to last year's 21.

Freshmen Strike Again: Cardinal freshmen Kelley O'Hara and Kristin Stannard led the Cardinal offense against the Washington schools this weekend, combining for 17 shots and five points in the two games. O'Hara and Stannard are two of the top three scorers for the Cardinal, and freshman Ali Riley is close behind. The freshman class as a whole has combined for 14 goals and 31 points this season, accounting for nearly half of the Cardinal scoring.

Shutout Streak: The Stanford defense has shut out its last three opponents, and now has 11 shutouts on the year. The defense has held 13 opponents to two shots on goal or less, led by a wall of 2005 All-Pac-10 performers in Rachel Buehler, Marisa Abegg and Allison Falk. Stanford is tied as the conference leader in shutouts and stands 14th nationally in shutout percentage (.65). The Cardinal's goals-against average (.64) is 26th-best in the country. Goalkeeper Erica Holland has surpassed her previous career shutout total in just the last three games. In seven appearances this season, the junior has yet to be scored on.

Pac-10 Numbers: After last weekend's matches, Stanford sits atop the Pac-10 in goals (30), assists (25) and points (85). The Cardinal also has the second-largest scoring margin among Pac-10 schools (+1.12). Senior Shari Summers and freshman Kelley O'Hara continue to be among the Pac-10's top offensive players. Both rank in the top-10 conference players in shots, points and goals. Summers is tied for fourth in goals (6) and stands sixth in goals per game (.38), while O'Hara is tied for fourth in goals (6) and stands fourth in goals per game (.46). With another assist this weekend, sophomore Lea MacKinnon now has six assists, good for third in the conference. Hillary Heath also ranks among the conference leaders in assists, with five so far this season.

Stanford in the Polls: The Cardinal reached a season-high in three of the four major soccer polls this week. Soccer Times listed Stanford 14th, while the NSCAA and Soccer Buzz put the Cardinal at No. 17. UCLA is ranked in the top-four in all four polls, while fellow Pac-10 schools California and USC also appear ranked in at least one this week.

The Series with Oregon State: Stanford has won 12 of the last 13 meetings with Oregon State, with the only all-time loss to the Beavers coming in 2003. Last season, Kelley Birch netted the game-winner in the 68th minute to lift the Cardinal to a 1-0 victory in Corvallis. Of note, six of the last seven meetings between the two teams have been decided by one goal or less.

Scouting the Beavers: Steve Fennah is in his ninth year as head coach at Oregon State and returns 13 letterwinners and nine starters to his 2006 squad. Last season, the team finished with a 10-8-1 overall record and placed eighth in the Pac-10. Junior Jodie Taylor is the second-leading scorer in the Pac-10, with seven goals and 21 points this season. Freshman Jessica Velazquez has made an immediate impact for the Beavers, with five goals and an assist so far this year. The Beavers are 8-6-2 going into the weekend, but have only one Pac-10 win, as the team topped Arizona State, 2-1, in the conference opener.

The Series with Oregon: Stanford holds a perfect 9-0 record against the Ducks, making the Cardinal more successful in matches with Oregon than in matches with any other Pac-10 school. Last season in Eugene, the Cardinal posted a 2-0 win, with then-freshman Kelley Birch netting her second game-winner of the weekend in the 30th minute.

Scouting the Ducks: Mike Smith is in his second season at the helm of the Ducks, and has helped the program make a dramatic turnaround. After finishing ninth in the conference in 2005, the Ducks are one of two unbeaten teams in the Pac-10 this year. Currently, the team is 10-5-1, with wins over conference foes Arizona, Arizona State, Washington and Oregon State. Senior Nicole Garbin leads the team with nine goals and 19 points this season while sophomore Allison Newton has registered 11 points. With an overtime win over Oregon State on Friday, the Ducks have guaranteed their first winning season in program history.

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