Top-ranked Stanford Seeks First Title
Dec. 1, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. -
No. 1 Stanford (24-0) plays No. 3 UCLA (21-2-1) in the semifinals of the NCAA College Cup on Friday at 2:30 p.m. PT at Aggie Soccer Stadium in College Station, Texas. This will be the second consecutive semifinal appearance for Stanford and third overall. The Cardinal is aiming for a title-match berth for the first time in its history. Stanford and UCLA finished 1-2 in the Pacific-10 Conference this season, with Stanford beating the visiting Bruins, 2-0, on Oct. 18 to claim its first conference title since 2002.
Stanford's semifinal match will be televised live on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360.com. The championship final will be shown live on ESPN2.
The Stanford-UCLA winner plays the North Carolina-Notre Dame winner in the championship final on Sunday at 10 a.m. PT. North Carolina (21-3-1), the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament titlist, is the defending national champion and winner of 19 of 27 NCAA titles. Notre Dame (21-3-1), the Big East Conference winner, is a two-time national champion.
This is the second consecutive season and third time overall that Stanford has reached the NCAA semifinals. Stanford has yet to reach a final, losing on penalty kicks to George Mason after a 1-1 draw in 1993, and losing to Notre Dame, 1-0, in 2008.
Stanford team records broken this season:
• Most wins in a season, 24 (previous, 22 in 2008)
• Most goals in a season, 78 (previous, 71 in 2008)
• Best winning percentage (clinched mark, previous was .935 in 2002)
• Longest winning streak, 24 (previous, 12 in 2002)
• Longest unbeaten streak, 24 (previous, 18 in 1993-94)
• Most shots in a game, 40 vs. Cal Poly 8/28/09 (previous, 33 vs. ASU 10/26/08)
• Fastest goal, 0:23 vs. BYU 11/27/09 (previous, 0:37 vs. Sac. St. 11/16/07)
Stanford individual records broken this season:
• Most goals in a season, Kelley O'Hara, 25 (previous, 20, Sarah Rafanelli, `93)
• Most points in a season, Kelley O'Hara, 63 (previous, 48, Sarah Rafanelli, `93)
• Most assists in a season, Christen Press, 15 (previous, 14, Marcie Ward, `00)
• Most shots in a season, Christen Press, 137 (previous, 117, Christen Press, `08)
Nation's Top-Scoring Tandem
Kelley O'Hara and Christen Press form the highest-scoring tandem in the country, combining for 45 goals, 28 assists and 118 points. The two have scored more goals as a duo than 289 of the 321 teams in NCAA Division I. O'Hara and Press have become just the 12th pair in Division I history to score 55 or more points in a season, according to research by collegesoccer360.com, and the first since Notre Dame's Kerri Hanks and Katie Thorlakson scored 71 points apiece in 2005. Only four sets of teammates have ever had 60-60 seasons in Division I history. Stanford's only other 40-40 duo was in 1993 when Sarah Rafanelli (48) and Erin Martin (40) accomplished the feat. They combined for 34 goals and 22 assists for an NCAA semifinal team.
Only four teams have ever gone through an entire season with a perfect record, but it's never been done by a non-North Carolina team. The Tar Heels last accomplished the feat in 2003 (27-0), but also did so in 1991, `92, and `93. Stanford is one of 12 teams to enter the semifinals with a perfect record. Most recently, Notre Dame came in at 25-0 last year before losing to North Carolina in the final. Stanford is one of three Bay Area teams to have accomplish the feat, following Santa Clara in 1999 (23-0) and Cal in 1987 (16-0). Neither of those teams advanced to the championship final.
Stanford is among the national statistical leaders in the following categories (through Dec. 3):
• Won-Lost-Tied Percentage: 1, Stanford, 1.000
• Scoring Offense (Team): 2, Stanford, 3.25 goals per game
• Goals-against average (Team): 8, Stanford, 0.54
• Points (Individual): 1, Kelley O'Hara, 63; 3, Christen Press, 55
• Goals (Individual): 1 (tie), Kelley O'Hara, 25; 6, Christen Press, 20
• Assists: 2 (tie), Christen Press, 15; 4 (tie)Kelley O'Hara, 13
• Overall winning and unbeaten streak (24)
• Home unbeaten streak (26)
• Home winning streak (22)
• Road/neutral winning and unbeaten streak (12)
NCAA Tournament So Far
• First Round: Beat Northern Arizona, the Big Sky tournament champion, 2-0 at home on a pair of second-half goals by Christen Press off assists from Kelley O'Hara. Stanford outshot the Lumberjacks 37-3, but wasn't able to get the ball in the net until the 55th minute.
• Second Round: Beat BYU, the Mountain West regular season champion, 2-0 at home with goals by Press and Lindsay Taylor, and another two assists from O'Hara. Press scored only 23 seconds into the match, breaking her own Stanford record for fastest goal. BYU tested the Cardinal, forcing defender Rachel Quon to make a leaping header off the line with three minutes left. In the 89th minute, Taylor put the match away.
• Third Round: Beat local rival Santa Clara, the West Coast Conference runner-up, 1-0 at home on a 25-yard free kick in the 39th minute by Teresa Noyola. The rematch was much closer than their first meeting, a 6-2 Stanford rout on Oct. 1. Goalkeeper Kira Maker pushed one shot away that appeared headed for the upper corner to preserve the victory.
• Quarterfinal: Beat Boston College, the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season co-champion and the No. 2 seed in the Stanford regional, 3-1 at home after falling behind in the second minute. O'Hara answered 50 seconds later with the first of her two goals. Press had a goal and two assists as the Cardinal outshot Boston College, 30-5. The match was the sixth sellout of the season as all 2,200 tickets sold within five hours of going on sale.
Results against teams in NCAA Tournament field
Stanford has played 17 matches against 16 teams in this year's NCAA Tournament field, combining for a perfect record and a 55-9 goal differential, with 10 shutouts. Against teams ranked in the NSCAA top 25 final regular-season coaches' poll, Stanford is 10-0 with six shutouts and has outscored those teams by a combined 29-5. Stanford has played two teams in this year's College Cup, UCLA and Notre Dame, winning each by 2-0 scores.
Kelley O'Hara is up for several national honors, and recently was one of 24 players invited by coach Pia Sundhage into the U.S. full national team training camp Dec. 5-15 in Carson, Calif. The following are national awards that O'Hara is up for:
• Hermann Trophy. On Watch List. Semifinalists to be announced soon.
• U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year. One of five finalists, pending.
• TopDrawerSoccer.com Co-Player of the Year. With teammate Christen Press.
• Soccer News Net Player of the Year. Finalist, pending.
• Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. Finalist, pending.
Stanford swept individual honors for the All-Pacific-10 Conference team. Kelley O'Hara was named Player of the Year, freshman midfielder Mariah Nogueira was Newcomer of the Year, and Paul Ratcliffe repeated as Coach of the Year. Stanford placed five players on the All-Pac-10 first team: O'Hara, Nogueira, junior forward Christen Press, freshman defender Rachel Quon and senior defender Ali Riley. In addition, freshman defender Alina Garciamendez and sophmore forward Lindsay Taylor were named to the second team, and Camille Levin was honorable mention.
Stanford has started four freshmen -- defender Alina Garciamendez, midfielder Mariah Nogueira, defender Rachel Quon, and forward Courtney Verloo. All of them made the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Garciamendez has started every game this season, one of five Stanford players to do so. The others are defender Alicia Jenkins, goalkeeper Kira Maker, forward Kelley O'Hara, forward Christen Press.
Stanford has outscored opponents by a combined 78-13, but two-thirds of those goals have come in the second half. The Cardinal has scored 52 goals in the second half, compared to 25 in the first half and one in overtime. The Cardinal has scored more goals in the second half than 311 of the 325 NCAA Division I teams have scored in full games all season.
Stanford has trailed five times this season, including twice in the second half -- against San Diego State (down 2-0) and Washington State (1-0). But Stanford has never relinquished a lead at any time. The Cardinal has been behind or tied at halftime 12 times this season.
Here is a list of the matches Stanford has trailed this season:
• Aug. 30: San Diego State took 2-0 lead at 51:31. Stanford scored at 57:45, 61:05 and 63:23 to take the lead in a 5-2 victory at home.
• Sept. 11: Purdue took 1-0 lead at 3:28. Stanford scored at 16:31 and 17:02 in a 2-1 victory in Santa Clara.
• Oct. 1: Santa Clara, after a pregame speech from San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary, took a 1-0 lead at 15:56. Stanford scored at 24:14 and 36:23 to take lead in a 6-2 victory at Santa Clara.
• Oct. 23: Washington State took a 1-0 lead at 53:20. Stanford's Christen Press tied the game at 86:48 and Kelley O'Hara scored the overtime winner at 94:19 for a 2-1 victory in Pullman, Wash.
• Nov. 27: Boston College took at 1-0 lead at 1:35. Stanford scored at 2:25 and 26:10 to take lead in 3-1 NCAA quarterfinal victory at home.
Friday's Opponent: UCLA
UCLA has reached the College Cup for the seventh consecutive season. The Bruins beat Portland, 2-1, on goals by Kylie Wright and Lauren Cheney within four minutes of each other in the first half, to overcome an early deficit. Cheney, a senior forward, is a U.S. national team player and earned a gold medal with the 2008 Olympic team. Cheney has 17 goals and 10 assists this season, and 68 goals in her collegiate career. The Bruins are led in scoring by sophomore forward Sydney Leroux, who has 23 goals and two assists. Leroux was the top scorer in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2008. UCLA has won nine consecutive matches since losing at Stanford, 2-0, on Oct. 18.
The UCLA Series
The two teams met on Oct. 18 at Stanford, with the Cardinal scoring two second-half goals to beat UCLA, 2-0. Stanford scored twice within two minutes. An own goal, on a deflection of a Christen Press shot, gave Stanford a 1-0 lead in the 72nd minute. Camille Levin came off the bench to head in the clincher in the 73rd. The match decided the Pacific-10 title, with the teams finishing 1-2 in the conference standings. Stanford also halted a six-match winless streak against the Bruins. Stanford and UCLA have combined to own at least a share of 15 of the Pac-10's 16 titles. UCLA holds a 9-6-3 series lead and is 4-1-2 over the Cardinal since 2003. This is their first postseason meeting.
Possible Sunday Opponent: North Carolina
The Tar Heels have won 19 of 27 NCAA titles and have qualifed for the NCAA Tournament every year since it began in 1982. North Carolina is the defending national champion and boasts the reigning Hermann Trophy winner, Casey Nogueira, a senior forward. Nogueira scored three goals in a 5-2 quarterfinal victory over Wake Forest. The Tar Heels own a 7-2 victory over UCLA and a 6-0 triumph over Notre Dame already this season. This is their 25th trip into the semifinals.
The North Carolina Series
Stanford has never beaten North Carolina, trailing 0-7-2 in the series. However, the teams met last season at Stanford, on Sept. 12, and tied, 1-1, after two overtimes. Alicia Jenkins' long pass from the back set up Kelley O'Hara for a breakaway that she buried in the 87th minute to tie the game. The teams met each year from 1992-96 with the Tar Heels winning all five, while outscoring the Cardinal by a combined 18-2. Last year's meeting was their first since 2005.
Possible Sunday Opponent: Notre Dame
Notre Dame is the only semifinalist to not receive a No. 1 regional seed. Instead, the second-seeded Fighting Irish scored two goals within 51 seconds to beat top-seeded Florida State, 2-0, in the quarterfinals in Tallahassee, Fla. Melissa Henderson and Haley Ford scored goals in the 39th and 40th minutes to send Notre Dame into the College Cup for the fourth consecutive season. Notre Dame is unbeaten in its past 19 matches since losing to Stanford, 2-0, on Sept. 13 in Santa Clara.
The Notre Dame Series
Stanford and Notre Dame met on Sept. 13 in the Santa Clara Classic, with the Cardinal striking for two second-half goals within a span of three minutes to beat Notre Dame 2-0 in a rematch of last year's NCAA semifinal. Freshman midfielder Mariah Nogueira scored her first collegiate goal on a 56th-minute header to break a scoreless tie and Christen Press followed by knocking in a deflected shot for the Cardinal. Notre Dame holds a 6-5-1 series edge, with three of the contests played in the NCAA Tournament. Besides Notre Dame's 1-0 victory in the 2008 College Cup semifinals, the teams have met twice in the third round, trading 1-0 victories. Stanford's came in 2002 when Marcia Wallis beat two defenders and scored from 20 yards in the 81st minute.