Aug. 31, 2010
Erickson Is NorPac's Best
No. 20 Stanford Cardinal (1-0, 1-0 NorPac)
UC Davis Aggies (0-1, 0-0 NorPac)
Date: Friday, Sept. 3
Site: Stanford, CA
Time: 7 p.m.
vs. No. 7 Michigan State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Date: Monday, Sept. 6
Site: Stanford, CA
Time: 12 p.m.
STANFORD, Calif.- No. 20 Stanford (1-0, 1-0 NorPac) returns to action later this weekend, hosting UC Davis and No. 7 Michigan State in a two-game homestand that represents almost half of the Cardinal's 2010 home schedule.
The Cardinal is slated to play only five home games this year, with two of those scheduled to take place over the Labor Day weekend. Throw in the fact that one opponent is a conference foe and the other a perennial top-20 and NCAA Tournament squad, making this week's upcoming homestand even much more critical.
The remainder of the schedule is road-heavy, although a couple of those matches will be played at neutral sites. There are two different three-game, four-day road trips on the ledger and an especially challenging two-game trek that pits Stanford against North Carolina and Wake Forest, schools that have combined to win five of the last eight NCAA championships.
Stanford should get a boost from playing at home. The Cardinal was unbeaten in nine home matches last season and has now won 12 in a row overall at the Varsity Turf dating back to Sept. 18, 2008 in a 1-0 loss to No. 19 Albany.
Here's what to expect from this weekend's matches:
UC Davis (0-1, 0-0 NorPac):
A victory over UC Davis on Friday would give Stanford early control of the NorPac's West Division standings at 2-0.
UC Davis predictably struggled during its transition to Division I in 2009, with Stanford sweeping the season series and outscoring the Aggies 16-2 combined. UC Davis' roster last year consisted primarily of incoming freshmen, Division I transfers and former club players.
That being said, UC Davis may be turning the corner. The Aggies were defeated 4-2 by Miami (Ohio) in their season opener but showed some fight and were actually tied 2-2 with 15 minutes remaining. That same Miami (Ohio) team also beat NorPac rivals California 4-3 and Pacific 8-0, so UC Davis was at least competitive.
Last year's games against UC Davis saw two Stanford players notch hat tricks: Rachel Mozenter in the first game and Xanthe Travlos in the second game.
Friday's contest is the first of two night games to be played under the lights this year at Varsity Turf. The lights were introduced last year.
No. 7 Michigan State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten):
A West Coast roadie awaits Michigan State, which plays at California on Friday and against Pacific on Saturday before taking on Stanford.
Stanford is looking for a victory over its highest-ranked opponent since shocking No. 3 Michigan State 2-1 at the Varsity Turf back on Aug. 31, 2001.
The Spartans have been a top-20 fixture in recent seasons, reaching the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three years under head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof.
This is a golden opportunity for Stanford to impress against a nationally-ranked opponent. The Cardinal knocked off No. 17 Iowa on the road last year, triggering a climb in the national polls. A win against Michigan State on Monday would do the same.
The Spartans are the highest-ranked team to visit the Varsity Turf since Sept. 13, 2008, when Stanford fell short against No. 4 Iowa 3-2. Current Stanford volunteer assistant coach Caitlin McCurdy was in the starting lineup that afternoon for the Hawkeyes.