Stanford women's soccer launches Pac-12 Networks
By Sam Silverstein, Pac-12.com staff
The Stanford women's soccer team is used to being first.
On the heels of winning the national championship this past December, the Cardinal enter this season ranked No. 1 in the country and are clear favorites to win the Pac-12. The top individual honor in women's college soccer, the MAC Hermann Trophy, has been awarded to a Stanford player three years in a row.
The Pac-12 Networks launched this week, and our first-ever live event broadcast is Friday. Any guesses whom our cameras will be pointed at?
The Cardinal women officially open their title defense on Friday night against visiting Santa Clara at 7 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks and live streaming on Pac-12.com for authenticated users (Do YOU get Pac-12 Networks? Check our channel finder). Here are four storylines to watch for:
- Reloading or rebuilding? The Cardinal graduated two Hermann Trophy finalists -- midfielder Teresa Noyola and forward Lindsay Taylor -- and two other starters. Yet the cupboard's never bare on The Farm. Seven starters and 21 letterwinners return, including three All-Americans: goalkeeper Emily Oliver, midfielder Mariah Nogueira, and forward Courtney Verloo. The freshman class is lauded too.
- Chemistry -- Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Chioma Ubogagu will miss Friday's match while training with the national U-20 team, and Oliver will be held out while recovering from an injury suffered this past spring. If team bonding can make up for missing personnel, however, the Cardinal will be fine; it's been a spirited camp according to several participants. The freshmen returned to their rooms one night to find them decorated with every lobby plant the upperclassmen could find. "We created a little jungle in there," Nogueria says.
- Pressure -- Expectations can cut both ways. And what's expected of the Cardinal these days are national championships. Whether the pressure is fuel for the fire or a burden will be on display for the first time on Friday.
- Familiarity -- Santa Clara and Stanford know each other well; the Broncos actually beat Stanford in a friendly this past spring. "They're going to be very competitive," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe says. "The players really know each other."
One more storyline: the broadcast itself. Pac-12 Networks exists in part to bring exposure to sports that normally don't get much air time. Women's soccer is a fitting start. "We are excited about the opportunity to deliver the kind of exposure to women's soccer that it richly deserves," Pac-12 Enterprises President Gary Stevenson says.
Nogueria says the Cardinal players are aware of the moment. "I think it's great for women's sports in general and a way to get women's sports out there. It's great for young girls everywhere who will be able to watch."
For a longer view beyond Friday, here's a Pac-12 Digital exclusive Q&A with Cardinal star Alina Garciamendez.