Aug. 12, 2005
The excitement for the 2005 Stanford field hockey team is building. The squad looks to be on the eve of a much improved season with an experienced, talented and large group of players ready to take the field in 2005. Stanford will return eight of its 11 starters, as well as four of its top five scorers from a year ago.
"We have very high expectations for the team this season," said Stanford head coach Lesley Irvine. "Last year, we had some huge milestone wins but also some disappointing losses. The key for us this season and in the future is consistency."
Not only does Stanford have a core of veteran players returning, the Cardinal also has a promising and large group of eight incoming freshman with several expected to challenge for significant playing time immediately.
"We've been able to add numbers to the team," explained Irvine. "That will not only help in sustaining the team in terms of handling injuries and fatigue, but it will also give us competition within the group for playing time and make practices very competitive. Each and every player will have to compete for their time on the field."
Sophomore midfielder/forward Jess Zutz
and junior forward Liz Robinson
co-led the team with 14 points last season as each scored six goals and added two assists. Zutz was the NorPac West Rookie of the Year and a Second Team All-NorPac selection. Robinson, who was selected to the All-Tournament team at the NorPac Championship, was known for coming through in the clutch with four of her six goals game-winners.
"It's great to have a couple of experienced players coming back on the offensive end," noted Irvine. "They are very capable of leading this team offensively."
Senior midfielder Missy Halliday is also expected to be a significant contributor on the offensive end after scoring 10 points on five goals last season. The team's active career leader in goals (10) has scored 23 career points and started all 60 games possible during her first three campaigns on The Farm.
Junior defender Aska Sturdevan has proven to be an offensive option as well with a combined total of 19 points in her first two campaigns. Last year, Sturdevan contributed 10 points on four goals and a pair of assists.
Senior Lyndsay Erickson moved to defense last season but still contributed six points (1 G, 4 AST) and is actually Stanford's active leader in both career points (24) and assists (10).
Junior defender/midfielder Julia Drewes (4 PTS - 1 G, 2 AST) and junior midfielder Jamie Hais (2 PTS - 1 G) are the other two returnees that contributed offensively a year ago.
"We have some good players that really have a knack for the goal offensively," stated Irvine.
In goal, sophomore Madison Bell is the lone returnee. Bell performed well in limited action as a backup last season for Ana Kralovec, who will miss her senior year due to injury. Bell allowed a goals against average of just 0.80 in a limited 87:45 minutes of action a year ago. She did get the win as the team's starter in the final game of the year last season, combining with Kralovec on a 1-0 shutout of Southwest Missouri State to take third-place at the NorPac Championship.
The Cardinal should have plenty of help for its goalkeepers on the back end with an experienced defensive crew featuring Drewes, Erickson, senior Tammy Shuer and Sturdevan. The foursome started all but one possible game last season and helped a Cardinal defense that finished a respectable fifth in the NorPac with a team goals against average of 2.05. Sturdevan led the squad with six defensive saves (#2T NorPac) in 2004, while Shuer had two. Drewes and Erickson picked up one each.
"We should be a very solid and experienced defensive unit overall," summarized Irvine. "We have some very talented veteran players that will anchor our defense."
"Generally, we have been a strong defensive team," Irvine continued. "This year, our goal is to be well-rounded with experience at nearly every position."
Stanford's veterans will be joined by a large eight-player freshman class consisting of Chloe Bade (F/M, Fort Worth, TX, Fort Worth County Day HS), Hillary Braun (F/M, Holland, OH/Phillips Exeter Academy), Ali Fox (M/D, Flemington, NJ/Hunterdon Central Regional HS), Caroline Hussey (M/F, Houston, TX/St. John's School), Simmy Martin (F/M, Washington, DC/National Cathedral HS), Elizabeth Rabenstine (D/M, Easton, MD/Saints Peter and Paul HS), Bailey Richardson (M/D, Los Gatos, CA/Los Gatos HS) and Sarah Scheller (GK, Bethlehem, PA/Moravian Academy).
"Although they are only beginning their collegiate career, we expect them to be a dominant class very early on," said Irvine of her newcomers. "They will be immersed into our team right away and will have an opportunity to impact the program immediately."
Despite its large number of both veterans and newcomers, Stanford will need to make up for the loss of a few key players from last season in First Team All-NorPac choice Eleanor Morgan (10 PTS - 2 G, team-high 6 AST), as well as Katherine Brooks (8 PTS - 3 G, 2 AST) and Kralovec, who ranked among NorPac goalkeeping leaders in saves (125, #3 NorPac), save percentage (.758, #4 NorPac) and goals against average (2.06, #5 NorPac), while also recording a pair of solo shutouts.
The Cardinal will face a tough schedule in 2005 with nine games against eight teams (American, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina, Pacific and Wake Forest) that made the 16-team field for the 2004 NCAA Division I Championship. The Cardinal opens the season with a five-game homestand versus Miami (Ohio), Delaware, Iowa, Syracuse and Michigan State from August 27 - September 5. Next up, is a season-long six-game road stretch from September 7-25 that begins with the NorPac opener at Appalachian State. Stanford will play three non-conference contests versus American, Maryland and Bucknell from September 10-13 while in College Park, Maryland, and then conclude the run of away contests with a NorPac game at California and a non-conference contest at Pacific on September 17 and 25, respectively. Stanford returns home for a single conference game versus Pacific on October 1 before hitting the state of North Carolina from October 7-10 for three more contests away from home versus Davidson, North Carolina and 2004 national champion Wake Forest. Stanford finishes the regular season by hosting Longwood, California and Radford for a three-game homestand October 15-31.
"We have a really tough regular season schedule," Irvine confirmed. "But, the key for us is to get to the next level, and to get there we have to experience playing at that level. I believe we're very close to getting there. We want to taste it and challenge these teams."
"It will be a phenomenal experience for the players," continued Irvine. "It's going to prepare us beautifully for our regular season conference games and the NorPac Championship, because we will have already seen some of the best teams in the country, and that's invaluable."
The 2005 NorPac Championship will be held November 3-5 and take place in Berkeley with California serving as this year's host. For the first time in the league's history, the winner of the NorPac's postseason event will automatically advance to the field of 16 for the NCAA Championship.
"The automatic bid is absolutely huge," said Irvine. "It's a testimony to a lot of the teams in our conference getting stronger nationally."
NCAA Regional action will take place November 12-13 at sites still be determined, while the NCAA Final Four is scheduled for November 18 and 20 in Louisville, Kentucky.