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Almost Perfect: Women's Soccer Season in Review
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 12/15/2009

Dec. 15, 2009

STANFORD, Calif. -

2009 Season Photo Gallery

Perhaps the ultimate tribute to the Stanford women's soccer coaching staff and players is that they weren't satisfied.

They experienced the greatest season in school history, registered the first perfect regular season ever for a Pac-10 team, and reached its first NCAA championship final. But even with all that, Stanford left College Station, Texas, unfulfilled after a 1-0 loss to North Carolina.

It's unfortunate that a single result can leave such an impression. But, perhaps, the impression won't be lasting - not if they appreciate the joy they brought their fans, community, and university.

The winning certainly speaks for itself:

• A 25-1 record, which shattered the year-old school record for victories by three.

• A 25-match winning streak, which more than doubled the previous record output of 12, set in 2002.

• And Stanford's first Pac-10 championship since 2002 and sixth overall.

But Stanford was about much more than winning. It was about playing what Brazilians like to call, "The Beautiful Game."

Stanford attacked. Always. Not once did the Cardinal purposefully drop into a defensive shell to protect a lead. Kelley O'Hara and Christen Press, with a combined 123 points, became not only the highest scoring tandem in the country, but the nation's highest scoring tandem of the past four years.

Stanford had flair. O'Hara, Press and Lindsay Taylor were not only skillful, but fast. And, unlike most high-scoring forwards, they all could pass, and would look to teammates for an even better shot than they could create on their own.

Stanford had grit. The Cardinal trailed or was tied in the second half 14 times, but lost only the last of those matches. Stanford used its possession style to wear down opponents, outscoring them 55-9 after halftime.

And Stanford had depth. Five different players had multi-goal games and 10 players scored at least two goals.

No, the joy was not just in the winning, but in how the Cardinal won, with a tireless style that took advantage of all those attributes that players strive to develop - skill, speed, and tenacity - and make the sport so fun to watch.

The embodiment of all those qualities came in the form of two players: O'Hara and Press.

O'Hara was like fire and ice - playing with a spirit that never ceased, whether that meant pushing forward or pressuring on defense. Yet, in front of the net, O'Hara harnessed that intensity with a certain level of relaxation, seeming to strike when the team needed it most. O'Hara had nine game-winning goals.

Press was pure elegance. She seemed to glide over the field, often with a burst that drove her past defenders before they - or sometimes linesmen - were ready. A breakaway specialist, Press knew how to bury a shot on the run.

For both players, composure was second nature. O'Hara scored 26 goals, had 13 assists, and totaled 65 points. Her goal and point totals set school records.

Press had 21 goals, a school-record 16 assists, and 58 points. Her goal and point totals are second only to O'Hara's in the Stanford season record book.

The midfield may have been the deepest position of all, with Hillary Heath, Camille Levin, Allison McCann, Mariah Nogueira, Teresa Noyola, and Taylor being almost interchangeable in the lineup, depending on the need. The versatility of the position allowed Stanford to play effectively against whatever style the opponent happened to play or whatever the Cardinal needed at the time.

Need ball-control to create a tempo? Players like Heath and McCann could provide it. Need reinforcements in attack? That was Taylor and Noyola. Looking for a single midfielder that could stifle an attack with a commanding presence in front of the penalty area? That was Nogueira. Need energy and pressure? That was Levin and senior Kristin Stannard.

The defense had question marks. After all, the only two graduating starters from 2008's College Cup semifinal team were its rocks - central defenders Allison Falk and Marisa Abegg.

Coach Paul Ratcliffe placed two true freshmen into the backline, Alina Garciamendez in the middle and Rachel Quon at outside right, and moved senior captain Alicia Jenkins from outside back to the center.

There were some growing pains - five goals allowed in the first three matches. But the group settled in. Though Stanford lacked the size in defense of past years, Jenkins, Garciamendez, Quon and Ali Riley were outstanding in positioning, playing the ball out under pressure, building the attack, and creating a tempo to the team's liking.

Stanford registered 14 shutouts with junior Kira Maker in goal, giving her 27 for her career, which puts her in range of Nicole Barnhart's school record of 35. Maker (0.60 goals-against average) wasn't called on often to make the spectacular save, but when she was, she was ready. She made huge saves against Saint Mary's and Washington State that meant the difference between victories and a draw or a loss.

Together, these players made the 2009 Stanford soccer season one to remember - the greatest in school history.

The season may have ended in disappointment, but also it wasn't for naught. They left a legacy of high standards and high expectations.

And that will not be forgotten.

The following is a summary of honors earned by Stanford this season, as of Dec. 15:

Team
• Pacific-10 Conference champion
• NCAA Tournament finalist
• No. 2 final national ranking (NSCAA)
• No. 1 regional seed
• No. 1 NSCAA ranking, Oct. 6-Nov. 10 (six weeks)
• School record, most victories in a season (25)
• School record, best winning percentage (.961)
• School record, longest winning and unbeaten streak (25)
• School record, most goals (80)

Paul Ratcliffe
• Pac-10 Coach of the Year
• CaptainU Division I Coach of the Year
• Winningest coach in Stanford history (110)
• Best season winning percentage (.961, 25-1)
• Most wins, season (25)

Alina Garciamendez
• Soccer America All-Freshman first team
• Top Drawer Soccer All-Rookie first team
• All-Pac-10 second team
• Pac-10 All-Freshman team
• Collegesoccer360.com Primetime Performers of the Week (Oct. 20)

Hillary Heath
• Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention

Alicia Jenkins
• All-Pac-10 honorable mention
• Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention
• Collegesoccer360.com Primetime Performers of the Week (Sept. 8)

Camille Levin
• All-Pac-10 honorable mention

Kira Maker
• Pac-10 All-Academic first team
• CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 first team

Allison McCann
• Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention

Mariah Nogueira
• NSCAA All-American third team
• NSCAA All-Pacific Region first team
• Soccer America All-Freshman first team
• Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year
• All-Pac-10 first team
• Pac-10 All-Freshman team
• Top Drawer Soccer All-Rookie second team
• Collegesoccer360.com Primetime Performers of the Week (Sept. 15)
• Pac-10 Player of the Week (Sept. 15)

Teresa Noyola
• CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 third team
• Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention
• Hermann Trophy watch list

Kelley O'Hara
• Hermann Trophy winner
• Soccer America Player of the Year
• Top Drawer Soccer co-Player of the Year
• Soccer News Net Player of the Year
• National leader in goals (26)
• National leader in points (65)
• U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year finalist
• Honda Sports Award Soccer Nominee
• Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist
• NSCAA All-American first team
• Soccer America MVPs first team
• Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Season
• NCAA College Cup All-Tournament team
• NSCAA All-Pacific Region first team
• Pac-10 Player of the Year
• All-Pac-10 first team
• ESPN Academic All-America first team
• Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention
• CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 first team
• School season record, goals (26)
• School season record, points (65)
• Soccer America Team of the Week (Oct. 27, Nov. 11)
• Collegesoccer360 Primetime Performers of the Week (Sept. 15, Oct. 6, Oct. 13, Oct. 20, Oct. 27, Nov. 10)
• TopDrawerSoccer Team of the Week (Oct. 4, Oct. 25, Nov. 9, Nov. 16)
• Pac-10 Player of the Week (Oct. 5, Nov. 10)
• Stanford/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week (Aug. 31)

Christen Press
• Top Drawer Soccer co-Player of the Year
• National co-leader in assists (16)
• NSCAA All-American second team
• Soccer America MVPs first team
• Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Season
• NCAA College Cup All-Tournament team
• NSCAA All-Pacific Region first team
• All-Pac-10 first team
• Pac-10 All-Academic second team
• CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 second team
• School season record, assists (16)
• School season record, shots (143)
• School record, fastest goal (0:23 vs. BYU)
• Hermann Trophy semifinalist
• Soccer America Team of the Week (Oct. 6)
• Collegesoccer360.com Primetime Performers of the Week (Sept. 1, Oct. 6, Nov. 10)
• TopDrawerSoccer Team of the Week (Oct. 4)
• Pac-10 Player of the Week (Aug. 25)
• Stanford/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week (Dec. 8)

Rachel Quon
• Soccer America All-Freshman first team
• Top Drawer Soccer All-Rookie first team
• NSCAA All-Pacific Region first team
• All-Pac-10 first team
• Pac-10 All-Freshman team

Morgan Redman
• Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention

Ali Riley
• NSCAA All-American third team
• Soccer America MVPs second team
• Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Season
• NSCAA All-Pacific Region first team
• Pac-10 women's soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year
• All-Pac-10 first team
• Pac-10 All-Academic first team
• CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 second team
• Lowe's Senior CLASS Award candidate
• Soccer America Team of the Week (Oct. 20)
• Collegesoccer360 Primetime Performers of the Week (Sept. 22)
• TopDrawerSoccer Team of the Week (Oct. 18)
• Stanford/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week (Oct. 19)

Kristin Stannard
• Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention

Lindsay Taylor
• All-Pac-10 second team
• Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention
• Hermann Trophy watch list
• Collegesoccer360.com Primetime Performers of the Week (Oct. 13)
• TopDrawerSoccer Team of the Week (Oct. 11)

Courtney Verloo
• Top Drawer Soccer All-Rookie second team
• Pac-10 All-Freshman team

-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics


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