STANFORD, Calif. – With each new season comes a reality check for the Stanford women’s soccer team.
Players reported for the first practice of the season at 8 a.m. Wednesday, with the infamous “beep test” awaiting them.
“It’s always a good way to start off camp,” senior goalkeeper Emily Oliver said. “It’s a good baseline to show how hard the team has been working all summer.”
The Beep Test is a shuttle run guided by beeps which increase in speed the longer you run. Those who cannot keep the pace are forced to drop out.
Lesley Moser, the team's sports performance coach, administers the beep and sees a correlation between the test’s structure and the nature of a soccer match.
“It shows capability and how hard they can push themselves,” Moser said. “As far as how long can you last over a sustained period of time as the intensity keeps going, the beep is a really good representation of that. That’s what soccer is. You’re never stopping and starting. You’re constantly going.”
The top performance on the Beep Test came from junior forward Chioma Ubogagu, a 2012 first-team All-Pac-12 selection. Seniors Shelby Payne and Aly Gleason also were among the last women standing.
Once the fitness assessments were concluded, head coach Paul Ratcliffe got back to soccer fundamentals for the remainder of practice.
“I think it’s something they wanted to put behind them, and then we can get to the soccer aspect,” Ratcliffe said. “The first day, there are nerves out there so you want to get them to relax a little bit and enjoy it.”
The Cardinal, coming off its fifth consecutive NCAA College Cup and fourth consecutive perfect Pac-12 season, return 19 letterwinners and six starters. But this year's team is characterized by its newcomers. There are nine -- eight freshmen and junior transfer Taylor Uhl, who was the nation's leading scorer at Minnesota last season (21 goals, nine assists). Their assimilation will help determine the season's success.Uhl, who moved into the dorms only yesterday, has had to get acquainted with her teammates quickly.
“It’s going to be a process but I like what I see so far,” Uhl said. “Just trying to take it day by day and gel better and better each day.”
Among the veterans is fifth-year senior Courtney Verloo, who led the Cardinal with 10 goals last season. With a mix of newcomers and veterans, Ratcliffe hopes to bring the team together in the coming weeks.
“That’s a big part of what we’ll be doing in the preseason, getting the chemistry right both on and off the field,” Ratcliffe said.
The Cardinal begins with a home exhibition against Grand Canyon on Aug. 17 (noon) before opening the season officially at Boston College on Aug. 23. Stanford plays its home opener Aug. 31 (7 p.m.) against Portland.