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World Cup: 'Everything I Dreamt it Would Be'
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 08/05/2011

Aug. 5, 2011

STANFORD, Calif. - What did you do this summer?

For Alina Garciamendez and Teresa Noyola, the answer was: Play in the World Cup.

After helping the Mexican national team to its best-ever Cup performance (two draws in three matches), Garciamendez and Noyola returned to Stanford this week for fall workouts, which began Wednesday in preparation for the Cardinal's opener against Penn State on Aug. 19 at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.

"Playing at the highest level gets me really ready for the college game just knowing I can play at the level," said Noyola, a two-time first-team All-America midfielder entering her senior year.

Garciamendez started all three matches in central defense in Germany and was one of only four Mexican players to play all 270 minutes.

Noyola came off the bench against England (1-1) and Japan (0-4). Mexico, which had never gained a World Cup point before, also drew with New Zealand and former Stanford teammate Ali Riley, 2-2.

The best part for Garciamendez?

"The whole environment, the stadium, the fans," said the Stanford captain. "I never expected such great crowds. Soccer-wise, the games were top-notch, high speed. Everything was amazing.

"It was everything I dreamt it would be. Maybe even better, because I was actually living it."

Stanford should benefit from their experiences. Noyola said she has learned to train more efficiently and is "more geared toward how I need it to be."

Garciamendez said the pace of the international game has helped her.

"Just the sense of urgency on the field, that mentality of bringing you're A-game every single game," she said. "Everything is super fast."

* * *

The Stanford women's soccer team was the first Cardinal team to report for practice this summer, as it prepares for an Aug. 19 opener against Penn State.

Coach Paul Ratcliffe and his staff have the players training twice a day to prepare, as the squad aims for a third consecutive conference championship and fourth consecutive NCAA College Cup berth.

"It comes fast," he said. "You've got to get them as fit as they can get for that first game without overtraining them, where they're exhausted for the first game. That's always the challenge. But ultimately, you've got to look longterm. That's the most important thing: that we get them prepared for the Pac-12 season and beyond."

* * *

The first practice on Wednesday began with the yo-yo intermittent recovery test, a fitness assessment. Players were given a packet over the summer that told them how to prepare for the test, which involved running 20 meters to a set of cones and returning before an electronic device beeped at a quickening pace.

Freshman Alex Doll's 35 sets were the highest on the team, while two other freshmen - Chioma Ubogagu and Lauren Schmidt -- were among the top five.

If a player failed to cross the line before the beep, she was forced to stop. Doll outlasted senior Camille Levin among the final two in their group.

"I tried to think of it competitively," Doll said. "I just wanted to win."

Doll, a forward, stayed in shape by playing with her club team, the Bethesda (Md.) Dragons, through the Under-18 Region I tournament in early July and training on her own.

"They told us exactly what tests we were doing each day, so that helped a lot, practicing those a few times," she said. "If you just did the stuff in the packet, I remember the trainer saying that you'd be fine."

* * *

Christen Press, the 2010 Hermann Trophy winner as college soccer's best player, is having an outstanding rookie season for Boca Raton, Fla.,-based MagicJack of Women's Professional Soccer.

Press, who scored 26 goals for Stanford last season, is tied for second in the WPS in goals, with eight in 14 matches. Only Western New York's Christine Sinclair, with 10 goals, has more while Philadelphia's Tasha Kai also has eight.

Press vaulted into the running with her first pro hat trick Saturday in a 4-0 victory over the Boston Breakers, giving player-coach and U.S. national team star Abby Wambach a winning coaching debut.

* * *

Stanford has two-a-day training sessions each day through Aug. 16 at the Maloney practice field adjacent to Cagan Stadium. Sessions are at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (2 p.m. after Aug. 11).

-- David Kiefer and Joseph Beyda, Stanford Athletics


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