Aug. 14, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - Senior forward Kelley O'Hara, a two-time All-American who ranks No. 7 on Stanford's all-time scoring list, has been called the team's "inspirational leader," by coach Paul Ratcliffe.Only a week into preseason training, she has proven him correct by arriving in top shape in preparation for her final season. After a mid-week morning practice, she spoke about the upcoming season.
Q: What are your expectations?
A: Every year, our end goal is the national championship and this year is no different. We had a great year last year and I everyone here is looking for the same thing. I think it's attainable.
Q: Many times athletes think more about the misses than the successes. Are you the same way?
A: Every time you lose out of the NCAA tournament, you look back on it. I definitely am using it as motivation to be better and not take anything for granted. It helped that we got to the semifinals last year, and it'll help this year. It's kind of like unfinished business.
Q: How did you prepare for the season?
A: I played on a summer league team this year. This was the first time I played with a team the whole summer. I think it's had a big impact in preseason in being fit. I played in L.A. for the Pali Blues with Christen Press, Ali Riley and Mariah Nogueira (O'Hara scored four goals in six matches to help the Blues win the W-League championship on Aug. 7 in Boyds, Md.). That definitely helped. It's my last season and I'm definitely coming into it being dedicated and wanting to give everything I have to this team in the short months that are left.
A: They were a huge, huge part of our team. They definitely were the anchor. They were both captains, both center backs, and they played off each other so well and ran the team really really well. But at the same time, we do have a lot of people who have a lot of experience. A lot of freshmen started last year and we do have nine returning starters. We're definitely going to miss them on and off the field, but I know that we have people that can step in and fill their shoes.
Q: What about leadership?
A: I think everything takes on their roles in terms of leadership. For me, it's in the way I train and the way I play. It is weird, you don't realize how much the seniors do, but we have a really strong senior class in terms of leadership.
Q: What do you look for in the freshmen at this point?
A: Just learning people's tendencies. That's how you become a cohesive team, learning how a player plays and getting used to where they want the ball, and where they make their runs, and things like that. These couple first practices, it's just about getting comfortable with each other and learning about one another.
Training Camp Update
The Stanford women's soccer team spent the first week of preseason training in two-a-day sessions as it breaks in its 10-player freshman class and works toward the season opener in Hawaii on Aug. 23.
During that time, the players endured picture day, and discovered they are ranked No. 2 in the national preseason poll and have been picked as the Pac-10 favorite through a vote by conference coaches.
They also spent an outing at Candlestick Park to watch the Barcelona-Chivas exhibition match, where they sat next to a boisterous group of Chivas fans and were recognized by the Candlestick Park hot chocolate vendor.
Between two-a-day practices, Ratcliffe described what he was looking for in the opening week.
"We want to build their base fitness and start organizing the team, from the defense forward," he said. "We want to teach the freshmen how we want to play, and work from the back forward with individual defending, midfield defending and forward defending. And then we'll work on attacking stuff next week.
"We're teaching them our base style and how we want them to play, possession, and things like that."
Stanford will continue two-a-days through Wednesday at the Maloney Field practice fields. On Thursday, the team departs for Honolulu where the Cardinal will open its season against Hawaii, on Sunday at 5 p.m. local time (8 p.m. PT).