Stanford Prepares for a Postseason Run

Nov. 8, 2006

Stanford, Calif. -

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This Week: The Stanford women's soccer team begins postseason play this weekend, heading to Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Action for the Cardinal begins Friday night, when Stanford takes on Nevada in the First Round. The match will be the second of a double-header, with kickoff set for approximately 7 p.m. The winner of the Cardinal-Wolfpack match will face the winner of a battle between Santa Clara and USC at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

So Far This Season: Stanford is 13-6-1 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. 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.

Stanford in the Postseason: This year's NCAA bid is the ninth-straight and 16th overall for Stanford. The Cardinal is 12-13-3 (.482) all-time in the postseason and 8-6-0 (.571) in First Round games. The squad returns to a familiar location for the opening rounds, as Stanford has now been sent to Santa Clara four consecutive times. Last year, the Cardinal fell to Saint Louis, 2-0, in the First Round.

Fab Five: 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 15 goals and five assists, and scored in 11 of the 13 Stanford wins. Two of the Cardinal's top-three scorers are freshman, and all five have started more than half of the team's contests. Kelley O'Hara is the leading scorer for the Cardinal with 16 points on the year, and Kristin Stannard is third on the team with four goals and two assists. Ali Riley has three goals and an assist in 15 games, while Alicia Jenkins has started all 20 contests, scored and played every field position. Katie Riley, a key to the Stanford defensive effort, rounds out the outstanding fivesome.

Dominance on Defense: The Stanford back line has blanked 13 opponents this year, including six of its last seven. The squad has held 15 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 is the top starting goalkeeper in the Pac-10, having given up just one goal in 10 appearances. The Cardinal boasts the 11th-best shutout percentage in the nation (.65) and stands 23rd in goals-against average (.593). Stanford defenders are far from passive on offense, however, as four goals and six assists have come from the back line this season.

Scoring Leaders: Kelley O'Hara is currently Stanford's scoring leader, with seven goals and two assists. Senior Shari Summers has seven goals, including five game-winners this season, while Kristin Stannard is the team's third-leading scorer with four goals and two assists. Sophomore Hillary Heath follows with two goals and six assists for ten points. Sophomore Lea MacKinnon joins Heath to lead the Cardinal with six assists, and both players are just two assists away from climbing onto the Cardinal single-season assist chart. Stanford has out-shot 17 of its 20 opponents and tallied 145 shots on goal to opponents' 45. Overall, the Cardinal has outscored opponents 33-12 this season. The Cardinal attack is one of the most balanced in the nation, with 15 players contributing points and four player in double-figures.

Tough Competition: The Cardinal has met some of the best teams in the nation in 2006, including six teams appearing in the final NSCAA poll and 11 teams that appeared in the polls at some point this season. Half of the Cardinal 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.

Head Coach Paul Ratcliffe: In his fourth season on the Farm, Head Coach Paul Ratcliffe has continued the winning tradition for the Cardinal. He has now posted 10 or more wins in all four seasons, and led the team to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Going into the weekend, Ratcliffe has accumulated a 46-28-9 (.608) record at Stanford. He earned is 100th win as a head coach against Oregon State on Oct. 29 and now boasts a 101-62-16 (.609) record for his career.

The Series with Nevada: Friday's meeting will be the first in history between the Cardinal and the Wolfpack. Stanford is undefeated against teams from the Western Athletic Conference, however, with a perfect 8-0 record.

Scouting the Wolfpack: Nevada is led by Head Coach Terri Patraw, who is in her third season at the helm of the Wolfpack. The squad is making its first appearance in the postseason, and boasts a 13-4-4 record. The Wolfpack finished third in the Western Athletic Conference this season, but earned an automatic berth by winning the WAC Tournament on Sunday. Nevada battled regular-season conference champion Fresno State through two overtimes in the tournament final, and advanced 4-2 on penalty kicks to earn the bid. Sophomore Karen Zmirak leads the squad with 11 goals and four assists this season, while sophomore Samantha Miller has seven goals and four assists. Two more players, Miranda Montejo and Kenishia Warren, also have posted double-figures in scoring this season, with 13 points and 11 points respectively. The Wolfpack has won five of its last six, but has yet to face a ranked opponent this season.

The Series' with USC and Santa Clara: The Cardinal has faced both of its potential Second Round opponents already this season, having fallen to Santa Clara, 2-0, on Sept. 30 and having tied USC on Oct. 6. The Cardinal out-shot both opponents, Santa Clara by a 13-shot margin and USC by a five-shot margin. The Cardinal has faced Santa Clara 29 times, including six times in the postseason, and holds a 7-18-4 record against the Broncos. Stanford dominates the series with USC, 9-3-2, and has never faced the Trojans in the postseason.

Scouting for the Second Round: USC enters the tournament with a 10-4-5 overall record, having finished fifth in the Pac-10. The Trojans earned an at-large bid for the second-straight year are led by the 19 points of senior Rosa Anna Tantillo. Junior Lauren Brown is also a leader for USC, with 12 points already this season. The Trojans are participating in their eighth NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Second Round last season. Santa Clara won the West Coast Conference Championship, and boasts a 15-4-1 overall record. The Broncos are led by the 25 points of junior Meagan Snell and the 18 points of senior Marian Dalmy. Santa Clara is participating in its 18th-straight NCAA Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2005.

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