Aug. 12, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford was the unanimous choice to win the first Pacific-12 women's soccer title in a vote by the conference coaches.
The Cardinal received all 11 possible first-place votes (coaches can't vote for their own teams) and the maximum number of points (121).
Stanford (23-1-2 last year) is the two-time defending champion and carries a 20-match conference winning streak. UCLA, eliminated by Stanford in the past two NCAA tournaments, is the coaches' choice to finish second.
The No. 1-ranked team in the nation for much of last season, Stanford finished 23-1-2, with the lone loss coming against Notre Dame in the NCAA final. The Cardinal has gone through the past two regular seasons undefeated, but will be strongly tested by a difficult nonconference schedule as well as an array of up-and-coming Pac-12 teams, such as Oregon State and Washington on the road.
The season kicks off Friday, Aug. 19, against defending Big Ten champion Penn State at 7 p.m. at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium. The Cardinal will begin defense of its conference crown on Sept. 24 against visiting Arizona.
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Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe answered the most enduring question of fall camp when he said Friday that junior All-America Courtney Verloo will play forward, rather than her 2010 position of defender.
"Right now, we're training her as a forward because we need her goal scoring," Ratcliffe said. "She's a player that could emerge as a superstar and score a bunch of goals for us if she gets hot."
Verloo was a backup forward and spot starter as a freshman (4 goals, 6 assists) before filling a need in central defense - a position she had never played - and earned third-team All-America honors.
Having Kendall Romine healthy has allowed Verloo to afford to move up to help fill the vacuum left by the graduation of national scoring leader Christen Press. Romine, a redshirt freshman, missed the past two years with leg injuries, but has been solid in training alongside captain Alina Garciamendez in the central defense.
"They are a very good pairing for what I've seen," Ratcliffe said. "But we have to see them in games too to make sure."
That doesn't mean positions are set. Ratcliffe is trying out several players at the midfield spot vacated by the graduated Allison McCann, including senior Camille Levin, who also is getting a long look at outside back. Levin has played a variety of positions in her Stanford career, but primarily started at forward in 2010.
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Fox Soccer will broadcast two Stanford matches live this season as part of the NSCAA College Game of the Week.
The televised matches will be Stanford's nonconference showdown at West Coast Conference favorite Portland on Sept. 15 (7 p.m.) and a Pac-12 match at Arizona State on Oct. 14 (7 p.m.).
The Stanford men will be featured as well, in their match at Maryland on Sept. 2 (4:30 p.m. PT).
Fans who miss a match will be able to view NSCAA College Game of the Week telecasts on-demand via FOXSoccer.tv, Fox Soccer's broadband video service.
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Junior outside right back Rachel Quon was named to the preseason All-America team of women's soccer blog All White Kit.
Quon, a starter since her freshman year, scored 2 goals and had 5 assists last season, earning Pac-10 first-team honors for the second consecutive season.
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After eight consecutive days of two-a-day training sessions, the Cardinal got a welcome break by taking a bus to Santa Cruz, where some players braved the chilly ocean and others took a ride on the rickety Giant Dipper Rollercoaster at the Boardwalk.
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|Pac-12 Coaches Poll||Points|
|1. Stanford (11)||121|
|3. Oregon State (1)||96|
|7. Arizona State||60|
|8. Washington State||49|
-- David Kiefer and Joseph Beyda, Stanford Athletics