STANFORD, Calif. - With victories over Loyola Marymount and Maryland last weekend, the Stanford women’s soccer team improved to 4-0-1 on the season, bumping it up to No. 3 in the nation.
What’s more impressive, however, is the Cardinal’s cumulative record during fifth-year senior Courtney Verloo’s career: 98-4-5.
She’s just two games away from her 100th victory while donning the Cardinal red.
And in those four previous seasons, Stanford has produced 10 NSCAA All-Americans, four national players of the year and reached the NCAA College Cup every year, claiming the national title in 2011.
Verloo has shown tremendous versatility in her Stanford career. The Tualatin, Ore., native arrived as a forward her freshman year, started 24 games the following season at central defense and, after missing the 2011 season due to injury, led Stanford with 10 goals in her return to the Cardinal attack last year.
Verloo spoke with GoStanford.com this week about her five-year Stanford soccer career, and the dynasty she’s been a part of since 2009.
Q: You’ve had the chance to play with some pretty outstanding players; a few national players of the year, 10 All-Americans. What have you learned from playing with those types of players?
A: “Oh my gosh, so much. We’ve had some of the most talented, hardworking, skillful players in the country, in college soccer in general – in the world even. You have Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press and all those other girls. Jane Campbell is in with the national team. She’s a freshman, it’s crazy. The one thing all those players have in common is their winning mentality and their competitiveness. That’s something that I’ve really grown over my four years, personally.”
Q: It’s been five consecutive College Cups for Stanford, four of which you’ve been here for. Do you think about that at all, how you’ve been a part of the golden years of Stanford soccer?
A: “Well, when you put it like that … I try to focus on this team, right here, right now, the games we have ahead of us. We have so much to work on. I’ve had some bumps in the road, but I feel completely blessed to have been a part of this program and the Stanford soccer family over the past four years, it’s been phenomenal.”
Q: How has the team evolved over the last four years? Like we said, there have been some outstanding players, but this year, there are nine new players coming in.
A: “Every year I feel like we graduate these big-time players and we’re always kind of nervous coming into the next season, but somehow it always seems to come together and work. That’s a testament to this program and the players before me, setting the standard and building the mentality that now, it doesn’t matter what the group is, there are going to be skillful, talented, smart players coming in. It’s just something that’s been built up throughout the years.”
Q: You and (fifth-year goalkeeper) Aly Gleason have been at the core for these five years. What’s your relationship like with her? Do you talk about how you guys are the oldest?
A: “Oh yeah. The girls call us Grandma. We’re always messing around like, ‘Oh, these kids…’ But, no, I still feel like I’m the same age as all these girls, but we definitely poke fun at the fact that we’re like, ‘past our prime.’”
Q: You’re also in a leadership role this year, as a fifth-year senior and team captain. With eight freshmen, what do you hope to pass on to them?
A: “I hope that we pass on the same things that the seniors when I was a freshman passed on to us, which was the competitiveness, and being accountable and being close as a team. That’s something that this team, over my past for years has been great with, is that we’re all best friends off the field too, which really helps on the field in terms of chemistry. Hopefully, I can help pass that down.”
Q: Any embarrassing things that have happened to you that you can steer the freshmen away from? Maybe some rookie mistakes you made that you could help them avoid in the future?
A: “I’m sure there are so many but I’m not sure what I would want on a Q & A. This isn’t really an embarrassing thing, but if I could go back to my freshman self I wouldn’t take any crap from the seniors. I would just do my thing, obviously play as a team, but not be intimidated or scared. Everyone wants you to succeed on this team, so just go out there and do your thing.”
Q: Do you think that because everyone’s intimidated and scared of you now?
A: “I don’t think that I have that impression, but maybe the first couple days, I don’t know. I know my freshman year, I had some big-time players, and I wish I would've come in a little bit more confident in myself.”
Q: You’ve had the chance to play under head coach Paul Ratcliffe for over four years now. How has your relationship with him changed over the years?
A: “We have a great relationship. I respect him a ton as a coach. Obviously, since I’ve been here, he’s brought the team to the final four every year, has great advice, wants us to succeed on the field, but he also cares about us off the field.
Now, there are a lot more conversations about the team and about what he wants me to do as a leader. When I was a freshman it was more teaching. It’s definitely changed. I think we have mutual respect for each other.”
Q: With your 98-4-5 record, all the College Cups and the team’s 70-match home unbeaten streak, do you ever think about what it’s like to lose?
A: “It’s definitely cool in that I’ve gotten to be on this winning team. But we’ve taken some of the most painful losses that you could imagine. I have those. We come out here and I don’t want to feel that feeling in any game whether it’s a final-four type team or a preseason game. I feel lucky to not have to struggle with so many ups and downs, especially through the last four years, but there have definitely been some hard losses, so I know how it feels.”
Q: Maybe the toughest loss for you was in 2011 when you had to stand on the sidelines and watch your team win a national championship. What was that like?
A: “Difficult to sit on the sidelines, but I was ecstatic for my teammates and (laughs) that’s just as much my national championship as it is that team’s. Definitely hard to be sidelined and have to be doing rehab when they’re out having fun here. I was so happy for the team and happy to have the ring, got out on the dogpile after the game. No pressure of the game, right? Best of both worlds.”
Q: You’ve changed positions a couple times. You started as a forward, then moved to central defense, then moved back last year. What has it been like to rotate around? Is that a hard transition?
A: “I actually enjoy moving around. From center forward to center back you have completely different roles, but I’ve played outside back with national teams growing up so I’ve kind of been shifted occasionally throughout my soccer career and you know a lot as a forward about positioning and where I don’t like defenders to be. So, I think I’ve learned a lot through that. The transition wasn’t too bad. There was definitely a learning curve in my first chunk of games but I think I got the hang of it. I like playing back there too.”
Q: As the “grandma” of the team in your fifth year, come December, are you going to be ready to leave Stanford or do you wish you could stay?
A: “Oh, I never want to leave! No, I love this team, but I think, hopefully, come December, I’m sure I’ll come back out and practice, hang out and obviously we’ll be hanging out off the field. But I’ll be ready to move on. I’m not sure exactly what I personally have in store. I’m not sure if I’m going to play professionally or go on to grad school, so I’m kind of trying to figure that out. But hopefully I’ll be ready.”
-- Jacob Lauing, Stanford Athletics Communictions Intern