Nov. 1, 2011
The Drive For Five
Moss Wins Muscle Milk
STANFORD, Calif.- No. 6 Stanford aims for its fifth consecutive tournament crown when the NorPac Championship gets underway Thursday afternoon at the Varsity Turf.
The NorPac's eight schools compete in a cross-divisional format, with Thursday's opening-round winners advancing to Friday's semifinals. The championship game is slated for Saturday at 1:30 p.m., with the winner earning the right to host an NCAA Play-In game against the tournament champion from the Atlantic-10 on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Heading into the final weekend, Richmond and Massachusetts are tied atop the league standings.
The last five NorPac Championship title games have resulted in a Stanford-California matchup, with the Cardinal defeating the Golden Bears four straight years. California posted a 3-1 win in the 2006 championship game.
Regardless of its performance in the NorPac Championship, Stanford (15-2, 6-0 NorPac) figures to be well-positioned for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth and even possesses an outside shot as a host site for the first and second rounds.
After blanking No. 7 Michigan 3-0 on Sunday for its most impressive win of the year, Stanford has now defeated six top-20 opponents and is riding a five-game winning streak.
The Cardinal jumped three spots in this week's Kookaburra/NFHCA National Coaches poll to No. 6. The rest of the top-10 includes: No. 1 North Carolina (18-1), No. 2 Old Dominion (18-2), No. 3 Maryland (15-3), No. 4 Connecticut (16-1), No. 5 Syracuse (16-3, No. 7 Michigan (13-5), No. 8 Duke (11-6), No. 9 Penn State (13-5) and No. 10 New Hampshire (15-4).
The latest edition of the RPI has Stanford checking in at No. 5. The rest of the top-10 includes: No. 1 Old Dominion, No. 2 North Carolina, No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 Connecticut, No. 6 Syracuse, No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Duke, No. 9 Penn State and No. 10 Ohio State.
Meanwhile, Stanford swept the Player of the Week awards this weekend in the NorPac's West Division. Hope Burke was named the Offensive Player of the Week, Ale Moss earned the Defensive Player of the Week honor and Shannon Herold was selected as the Rookie of the Week.
Stanford's NorPac Player of the Week award winners
Becky Dru (Aug. 30) - Offensive Player of the Week
Kelsey Harbin (Aug. 30) - Rookie of the Week
Alex McCawley (Sept. 6) - Rookie of the Week
Kelsey Harbin (Sept. 13) - Defensive Player of the Week
Courtney Haldeman (Sept. 20) - Offensive Player of the Week
Becky Dru (Sept. 27) - Offensive Player of the Week
Kelsey Lloyd (Sept. 27) - Defensive Player of the Week
Alex McCawley (Sept. 27) - Rookie of the Week
Alex McCawley (Oct. 11) - Rookie of the Week
Alex McCawley (Oct. 18) - Rookie of the Week
Ale Moss (Oct. 18) - Defensive Player of the Week
Alex McCawley (Oct. 25) - Rookie of the Week
Hope Burke (Oct. 31) - Offensive Player of the Week
Ale Moss (Oct. 31) - Defensive Player of the Week
Shannon Herold (Oct. 31) - Rookie of the Week
Here's a quick preview of Thursday's opening-round games at the NorPac Championship:
| 11 a.m. Davidson vs. UC Davis
Davidson finished the year 10-7 overall and 4-2 in NorPac play, resulting in the No. 2 seed of the East Division. The Wildcats enter this week's tournament having won three of their last four games. Close calls: Davidson has outscored its opponents 43-40 and outshot its foes 248-245. Head coach Ginny Turner led the Wildcats to their first-ever NorPac East Division title in 2010, resulting in a Coach of the Year honor.
The No. 3 seed in the West Division, UC Davis wrapped up the year at 4-11 overall and 2-4 in the NorPac. The Aggies opened the year with a 3-1 victory over Pacific, and ended the season with a 4-1 triumph over the Tigers. The rest of the year was a struggle, with UC Davis outscored 43-24 by its opponents. UC Davis is attempting to win back-to-back games for the first time since defeating Ball State and Pacific in October of last year.
| 1:30 p.m. Stanford vs. Appalachian State
Aside from being the class of the NorPac, Stanford has emerged as one of the best programs in the country. Ranked among the nation's top-10 for all but two weeks, the Cardinal locked up the West's No. 1 seed. Stanford is three wins shy of surpassing the school record (17) established in 2009. Riding a five-game winning streak, Stanford has won eight consecutive games at the Varsity Turf since its last loss on Sept. 19, 2010.
Appalachian State (2-16, 1-5 NorPac) is the No. 4 seed in the East Division. The Mountaineers have lost 10 of their last 11 games, not exactly the way you want to charge into the postseason. Appalachian State is 1-8 on the road this year and 0-4 neutral site contests. Appalachian State has drawn Stanford in the first round of the last two NorPac Championships, losing 10-3 last season and 9-0 two years ago.
| 4 p.m. Longwood vs. Pacific
Longwood finished on top of the NorPac's East Division, earning the No. 1 seed after posting an overall mark of 11-8 and winning five of six conference games. The Lancers have reached 11 wins for the first time since 2000, when the club finished 15-5. Longwood has won six of its last seven contests entering the tourney. The Lancers are 5-5 away from their home turf and will face Pacific in Thursday's first round.
Pacific has struggled in 2011, winding up with the No. 4 seed in the West Division after finishing with a 2-13 overall record. Winless in NorPac play, Pacific has lost seven straight games since its last win, a 3-2 victory over Robert Morris back on Oct. 2 that was decided by penalty strokes. The Tigers are looking for any momentum offensively, having scored just one goal over the last six games.
| 6:30 p.m. California vs. Radford
California (13-3, 4-2 NorPac) has enjoyed a very solid season, spending time in the national rankings and knocking off five top-20 opponents along the way. The West Division's No. 2 seed, California has also excelled away from home, posting a 7-2 road record and 2-0 neutral site mark. Two of the Golden Bears' losses have come against Stanford, but it would be foolish to count out the East Bay rivals in this tournament.
Radford checks in with the No. 3 seed in the East Division after compiling a 7-11 overall record and finishing 2-4 in NorPac play. The Highlanders started the year 4-1 but ended the season on a four-game losing streak. Radford has totaled more shots (270-241) and penalty corners (175-115) than its opponents, but has been outscored 46-32. The Highlanders are led by Jeff Woods, as the skipper enters his 26th season at the helm.