Stanford Battles Clemson for a Trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals
Nov. 14, 2006
Stanford, Calif. -
This Week: After posting a pair of wins over Nevada and USC in the First and Second Rounds last weekend, the Stanford women's soccer team moves on to its first NCAA Third Round since 2002. The Cardinal will host Clemson on Friday night at 7 p.m., and battle the Tigers for a chance to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinal Round. The winner of the Stanford-Clemson match will face the winner of Florida State and Illinois, Nov. 24, 25 or 26.
Supporting The Cardinal: Tickets for Friday's game can be purchased online at GoStanford.com, in person at the Stanford Ticket Office or by calling 1-800-STANFORD. Prices for the NCAA event will be $8 for adults and $5 for students, youth and seniors.
So Far This Season: Stanford is 15-6-1 so far in 2006, has shutout opponents in 14 matches and out-shot them 18 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. The Cardinal rebounded with six-straight conference wins, topping Arizona State and blanking Arizona, Washington State, Washington, Oregon State and Oregon. Stanford ended the regular-season with a 1-0 loss to California in Berkeley, and a third-place finish in the Pac-10. On Friday night, the Cardinal began its postseason run with a 2-1 win over Nevada, then blanked Pac-10 foe USC, 2-0, on Sunday to advance to the Third Round.
Home Sweet Home: Friday night's match will be the first postseason soccer action on the Farm since 2002, when both the men's and women's teams hosted the first four rounds of the tournament. Stanford has capitalized on its home field advantage in the past, with an 11-2-1 (.885) record in postseason matches at Maloney. Prior to this season, the Cardinal had collected 11 of its 12 postseason wins at home. In 2006, the Cardinal is 9-1-0 on the Farm, and has won seven-straight games on its home turf.
Stanford in the Postseason: The Cardinal is participating in its ninth-straight and 16th all-time NCAA Tournament this year. With another pair of wins this weekend, the Cardinal is now 14-13-3 (.517) all-time in the postseason and has earned a ticket to its first Sweet Sixteen since 2002. Since the tournament expanded to its current 64-team format, the Cardinal has advanced to three Third Round games, and played all three at Maloney Field. In 2001, the Cardinal was edged by Notre Dame, 1-0. In 2002, the Cardinal turned around and edged the Irish by the same score.
Freshman Fivesome: Tabbed one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, the Stanford freshmen have lived up to their reputation this season. The fivesome has been the driving force of the Cardinal offense, responsible for nearly half of the Cardinal scoring. The freshmen have combined for 18 goals, six assists and 42 total points, and have scored in 13 of the 15 Stanford wins. Three of the Cardinal's top-five scorers are freshman, and all five have started more than half of the team's contests. Kelley O'Hara and Ali Riley both competed in the U-20 Women's World Cup is Russia this summer, and returned to the Farm to make an immediate scoring impact. Appearing in just 16 games since her return, O'Hara is the leading scorer for the Cardinal with 20 points on the year. Riley and Kristin Stannard are fourth on the team with four goals and two assists apiece, while Alicia Jenkins has started all 21 contests, scored and played every field position. Katie Riley, a key to the Stanford defensive effort, rounds out the outstanding fivesome.
Top-Notch Defense: The Stanford back line has blanked 14 opponents this year, including seven of its last nine. The squad has held 16 opponents to two shots on goal or less, including top teams such as Santa Clara, Tennessee, 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 finished the regular-season as the top starting goalkeeper in the Pac-10, and has given up just two goals in 12 appearances. Stanford is ranked 12th nationally in shutout percentage (.64) and 14th nationally in goals-against average (.585). The Cardinal defenders are far from passive on offense, however, as four goals and six assists have come from the back line this season.
Prolific Offense: Kelley O'Hara is currently Stanford's scoring leader, with nine goals and two assists, including a pair in Sunday's win over USC. Senior Shari Summers has seven goals, including five game-winners this season, while Hillary Heath is the team's third-leading scorer with three goals and six assists. Freshmen Kristin Stannard and Ali Riley follow with four goals and two assists apiece. Sophomore Lea MacKinnon leads the team with seven assists, just one short of climbing onto the Cardinal single-season chart. Stanford has out-shot 18 of its 22 opponents and tallied 159 shots on goal to opponents' 54. Overall, the Cardinal has outscored opponents 37-13 this season. The Cardinal attack is one of the most balanced in the nation, with 15 players contributing points and five players scoring in double-figures.
Best of the Pac-10: Eight players on the Cardinal squad were honored by the Pac-10 last week as selections to one or more of the All-Conference teams. Defender Rachel Buehler, midfielder Shari Summers and forward Kelley O'Hara were named to the First Team, with O'Hara being the first Cardinal freshman to earn First Team honors since Marcie Ward did so in 2000. Sophomore defender Allison Falk and freshman midfielder Kristin Stannard were named to the Second Team, while sophomore defender Marisa Abegg received Honorable Mention. O'Hara, Stannard, Alicia Jenkins and Ali Riley grabbed spots on the All-Freshman squad. Overall, Cardinal players garnered 10 awards, the most in the conference and the most in the history of the Stanford program. Stanford also collected a record four Pac-10 Player of the Week honors over the course of the season.
Head Coach Paul Ratcliffe: In his fourth season on the Farm, Head Coach Paul Ratcliffe is having the most successful season of his career, coaching his first team to the Sweet Sixteen and tying his career record with 15 wins. Ratcliffe has now posted 10 or more wins in all four seasons at Stanford, has led the team to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and accumulated a 48-28-9 (.629) record with the program. He earned is 100th win as a head coach against Oregon State on Oct. 29 and now boasts a 103-62-16 (.613) career record.
Meeting the Nation's Best: The Cardinal has met some of the best teams in the nation in 2006, including seven teams appearing in the final NSCAA poll and 12 teams that appeared in the polls at some point this season. Half of the Cardinal's regular-season opponents made the NCAA Tournament, and Stanford blanked four of them. The Cardinal has faced six of the seeded teams in the field, and has fallen to just one opponent this season that did not receive a top-16 seed. Of the 16 squads remaining in the Third Round, Stanford has already faced-off with two of them, UCLA and Tennessee.
The Series with Clemson: The Cardinal has met the Clemson Tigers twice before, but it has been nearly a decade since the teams last saw each other. The Cardinal and Tigers swapped appearances at each other's tournaments in 1996 and 1997, with both squads earning a victory on the road. At the first meeting in 1996, Stanford dropped a 1-0 decision to Clemson at the Stanford Nike Invitational. A year later, the Cardinal avenged the loss with a 2-1 victory at the Clemson Classic.
Scouting the Tigers: At the helm of the Clemson program is Todd Bramble, who begins his sixth season as head coach. The Tigers enter the Third Round with an 11-7-4 record and finished tied for fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers topped Boston College in the ACC Tournament, but fell to North Carolina in the semifinals. Clemson was one of seven ACC teams to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, selected at large for its 13th-straight trip to the postseason. The unseeded Tigers knocked out Vanderbilt and Oklahoma State in shootouts in the First and Second Rounds to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. The leading scorers for the Tigers are Meghan Smith and Julie Bolt, a pair of sophomores who have five goals and five assists apiece this year. Freshman Molly Franklin is close behind with five goals and four assists. Goalkeeper Ashley Phillips boasts an .829 save percentage, eight shutouts and 107 saves on the year.
By the Numbers: Stanford edges Clemson in scoring this season with 1.68 goals per game to the Tigers' 1.45 and averages 14.4 shots per game to the Tigers' 11.0. Clemson is slightly more accurate on attempts, however, netting just over 13 percent to the Cardinal's 11.7 percent. Clemson has allowed nearly 70 percent more goals than the Cardinal, giving up 22 to the Cardinal's 13. Stanford, one of the nation's top defensive teams, has shutout 14 opponents this season, while the Tigers have shutout 10.