No. 15 Stanford Heads to Cal for Regular-Season Finale
Oct. 31, 2006
Stanford, Calif. -
This Week: The Stanford women's soccer team heads across the Bay to Cal this weekend, looking for its seventh-straight conference win. The match with the Golden Bears will mark the last of the regular-season for the Cardinal, with kickoff set for 1 p.m. on Sunday at Edwards Stadium/Goldman Field in Berkeley.
On The Horizon: The Cardinal is eyeing its 16th NCAA bid this year, and the its ninth-straight trip to the postseason. The NCAA Selection Show will air Monday, Nov. 6 between noon and 1 p.m. Pacific on ESPNews. The first and second rounds will be held at campus sites, Nov. 10 and Nov. 12.
So Far This Season: Stanford is 13-5-1 so far in 2006, has shutout opponents in 13 matches and out-shot them 17 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 six-straight conference matches, topping Arizona State, 3-2, and blanking Arizona, Washington State, Washington, Oregon State and Oregon.
A Look Back: The Cardinal is having its best season of the Paul Ratcliffe era and its best since 2002, when the team went 21-1-1, finished undefeated in the Pac-10, shutout 19 opponents and hosted the first four rounds of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Portland on penalty kicks in the NCAA Quarterfinal round. With its third-straight conference sweep this weekend, the 2006 squad is on its longest conference run since that season and has put itself in position for its highest Pac-10 finish in four years. Moreover, this year's team has already put up the highest offensive output since that season, and increased total goals from last year by 65 percent. The Cardinal defense has also stepped up with its best performance since 2002, boasting its highest shutout percentage since that historical season.
A Team Effort: The Stanford offense is no one-woman show, as the Cardinal boasts the most balanced offense in the Pac-10. Fifteen players have contributed to the Stanford scoring effort so far this season, more than on any other conference team. Moreover, the Cardinal is the only team to have four players in double-figure scoring this year, as Kelley O'Hara, Shari Summers, Kristin Stannard and Hillary Heath all have ten or more points. This weekend, the Oregon schools were challenged by the multi-faceted Stanford attack, as shots were fired at the Beavers and Ducks from 12 different players.
Scoring Leaders: Freshman Kelley O'Hara is currently Stanford's scoring leader, with seven goals and two assists. Fellow freshmen Kristin Stannard, Alicia Jenkins and Ali Riley have combined for eight goals and three assists to bring the Cardinal newcomer total to 35 points so far and nearly half of Cardinal goal-scoring. Of note, the freshmen have scored in 11 of the 13 Stanford wins this season. Senior Shari Summers added another goal against Oregon State to bring her season total up to seven goals, while sophomore Hillary Heath has two goals and six assists for ten points. Heath and sophomore Lea MacKinnon are each just two assists away from climbing onto the Cardinal single-season assist chart. Junior Lizzy George has nine points this season while sophomore Allison Falk has notched five of her six points in conference play. Stanford has out-shot 17 of its 19 opponents and tallied 145 shots on goal to opponents' 38. Overall, the Cardinal has outscored opponents 33-11 this season.
Blanking the Best: The Stanford defense has blanked five-straight opponents, and now has 13 shutouts on the year. The squad has held 15 opponents to two shots on goal or less, including top teams such as Santa Clara, Boston University, USC and Rutgers. U.S. Senior National Team member Rachel Buehler has been the anchor of the back line, but junior April Wall and 2005 All-Pac-10 Freshman honorees Marisa Abegg and Allison Falk have been key to the unit's success. Erica Holland is the only starting goalkeeper in the Pac-10 who has not given up a goal, as the junior has registered five shutouts since earning the starting job against Arizona. The Cardinal is one of the top-10 teams in the nation in shutout percentage (.68) and stands 21st in goals-against average (.57).
Pac-10 Numbers: After last weekend's matches, Stanford is second in the Pac-10 in goals (33), and leads the conference in assists (29) and total points (95). The Cardinal also has the second-largest scoring margin among Pac-10 schools (+1.16) and is riding the second-longest unbeaten streak. Freshman Kelley O'Hara and senior Shari Summers continue to be among the Pac-10's top offensive players. Both rank in the top-10 in shots, points and goals. The pair is tied for third in goals, with seven apiece and stand fourth and fifth respectively in goals per game. Sophomores Lea MacKinnon and Hillary Heath are tied for third in the conference with six assists apiece. Junior goalkeeper Erica Holland leads the Pac-10 with an unblemished 6-0-0 record, a 1.000 save percentage and a 0.00 goals-against average.
Stanford in the Polls: The Cardinal continued to climb in all four major soccer polls this week, reaching season-highs in all four for the second week in a row. Soccer Times listed Stanford 11th this week, while the NSCAA and Soccer Buzz put the Cardinal at No. 15. In Soccer America, the Cardinal came in at No. 14. UCLA is the only other school in the conference to appear in all four polls, as the Bruins appear third in each one. USC is ranked in two of the four, appearing in both the Soccer Times and Soccer Buzz polls.
The Pac-10 Race: Going into the final weekend of the regular-season, Stanford stands second in the Pac-10 with a 6-1-1 record. No. 3 UCLA remains undefeated and leads the conference with a 7-0-0 record, while Oregon stands third at 4-1-2. The Cardinal can finish no lower than third in the Pac-10, and with a win at California this weekend, will be guaranteed at least a second place finish. UCLA can clinch its fourth-straight conference championship with a win at Oregon on Friday.
The Series with Cal: In the 24 historical meetings with Bay Area rival Cal, Stanford has collected 12 wins, the Bears have collected nine and three matches have ended in ties. Stanford has won four of the past six meetings, but recently the games between the two schools have been close. Three of the past four have gone into overtime and last year marked the first match since 2000 that wasn't decided by a single goal. Last year, Stanford fell to the Bears at Maloney Field, 2-0.
Scouting the Golden Bears: Kevin Boyd, the 2005 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, is in his tenth season as head coach of the Golden Bears. Last season, he led Cal to a second-place finish in the Pac-10, its 13th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance, and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Boyd returns 21 letterwinners and five starters from the 2005 squad, and the team has posted a 9-4-5 record so far this season. The Bears cruised through the non-conference season with just one loss, and soared as high as No. 1o in the polls. Cal has struggled in the Pac-10 so far, however, with three ties and losses to Washington State, Arizona State and UCLA. Senior Katie Ratican leads the Bears in scoring with five goals and 13 points on the year. Fellow senior Julia Schnugg follows with four goals and nine points, while freshman Kelly Menachof has made an immediate impact for the Bears with three goals.