May 19, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. -Stanford women’s soccer coach Paul Ratcliffe has announced a six-member recruiting class that will join a team that reached the NCAA College Cup final last year and is coming off its best-ever season.
Among the incoming freshmen are four with extensive youth national-team experience and two Bay Area products who have made impacts at the ODP regional and high school levels.
“I’m very excited about this recruiting class,” Ratcliffe said. “I think we already have a good nucleus coming back. And the addition of these players, I think we have a strong squad to compete for a national title.”
Stanford went 25-1 in 2009 while winning the Pac-10 Conference title and going undefeated into the NCAA final. Forward Kelley O’Hara led the nation in scoring and became Stanford’s first Hermann Trophy winner, as college soccer’s best player. O’Hara and defender Ali Riley each were selected in the first round of the Women’s Professional Soccer draft and were among six graduating seniors.
Stanford returns eight starters and expects to get an additional boost from its strong freshman class.
The following is a look at each player:
Natalie Griffen, F (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley HS/Mustang Earthquakes): Griffen impressed with her quickness and skill, and eventually fulfilled her childhood goal of attending Stanford. Ratcliffe sees her as an outside forward who can “create good opportunities in front of the goal for us,” he said. “She can finish and set players up.” Griffen, an Olympic Development Program regional player, showed her athleticism by winning the league title in the 400 meters in her only season of track.
Taylor McCann, MF (Burlingame, Calif./Burlingame HS/Juventus Sport Club): A local product from Burlingame High School, McCann was first noticed by Ratcliffe in a high school playoff match when she scored two spectacular goals. McCann scored 32 goals and had eight assists as a senior, and led the Panthers to consecutive Central Coast Section Division II championships, in 2008 and 2009. “She’s a versatile player who can play midfield, but can also play forward or as an outside back,” Ratcliffe said. “She’s got good pace, and she’s technically very good.”
Emily Oliver, GK (Flossmoor, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor HS/Windy City Pride): A member of the U.S. under-18 national-team pool, Oliver is “a very talented goalkeeper with a great presence,” Ratcliffe said. “We’re hoping she can come in immediately and compete for a spot. She’s technically a very good goalkeeper, with great potential.” Oliver, who has been part of the national-team program since the U-14s, did not play high school soccer during her final two years at Homewood-Flossmoor, choosing instead to train with her club’s U-18 and U-19 men’s teams.
Shelby Payne, F (Bradenton, Fla./Bradenton Prep/RSL Florida): Shelby and twin Sydney join the team after two years at the IMG Soccer Academy and several years in U.S. youth national-team pools. Shelby was the IMG Soccer Academy Attacking Player of the Year in 2009 and an Adidas ESP All-Star. Shelby is an athletic, strong, and versatile player with the ability to play midfield as well as forward, and could be an impact player as a freshman.
Sydney Payne, F (Bradenton, Fla./Bradenton Prep/RSL Florida): Sydney brings a strong attacking presence and versatility to Stanford. The two-time NSCAA Youth All- American was the IMG Soccer Academy MVP in 2009 and her athleticism will be a benefit to the Cardinal. Sydney has the ability to play midfield, in addition to forward, and has the potential to make an immediate impact for the Cardinal.
Kendall Romine, D (Coto de Caza, Calif./Tesoro HS/So Cal Blues): A member of the U.S. under-18 national-team pool, Romine brings a strong presence to the central defense. Romine was the Cal-South 2009 Player of the Year for her club, the So Cal Blues, and led the team to the 2007 national under-15 title. Romine was scheduled to play for the U.S. U-18s to Spain in February, but broke her foot and instead is hoping to return to the team in July. “She’s very good technically on the ball,” Ratcliffe said of the 5-foot-9 player. “And she’s also a good athlete with good size, with a good aerial presence heading the ball.”
Stanford reports for camp on Aug. 3 and begins training for the fall season the following day. The Cardinal opens at defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Boston College on Aug. 20 and plays its home opener against Georgia on Sept. 10.