Feb. 9, 2011
Stanford will be looking to reach new heights for the second consecutive season. Last year, the Cardinal attained its highest-ever national ranking of No. 8 and advanced to the first round of the NCAA tournament for just the second time. This year the Cardinal has set a goal to advance even further in the tournament with the program goal of becoming the first team from the west to make a Final Four.
"We want to push through and get out of the first round of the tournament with the eventual goal of getting to the final four," said head coach Amy Bokker. "We know that it will take a lot of hard work and first and foremost is still getting through the MPSF and continuing to be a force in the conference."
The Cardinal returns the majority of last season's team and have a strong group of freshmen that will give Stanford outstanding depth. Bokker intends to use the depth to play quicker and utilize more players.
"We feel like we have a good mix of experience coming back and some young players with speed. We want to try to play an up-tempo game. Our fast breaks have been great during the fall, which is something that we lacked last season. I think with our experienced midfield we can go into games with a goal of wearing teams down with the way we run our midfield lines."
Stanford finished 15-6 last season and won the MPSF tournament. This season, the Cardinal faces a tough non-conference schedule with the majority of the games on the road. Stanford will face four preseason-ranked opponents, but can earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning the MPSF this year.
The Cardinal returns its leading scorer in Sarah Flynn, but will need to replace the 62 goals scored between the graduated Dana Lindsay and Amanda Schwab. In addition, Stanford's all-time assist leader, Claire Hubbard was lost to graduation. Despite the losses, the Cardinal should be in good shape with twin sisters Anna and Emilie Boeri moving from the midfield up top. Both are juniors and should see their most significant playing time this year. The fourth attacking spot is still an open competition, but the Cardinal has several players capable of filling the role. If the scoring is a problem, Stanford can also look to move one or more of its experienced midfield players into the attack.
"We have Sarah Flynn
back who was our leading scorer," said Bokker. "She has put herself in a different role this year as a captain that is providing a lot of leadership for our younger players. I think we have a lot of depth in our attack, which has made it difficult to decide on playing time, but I think Anna Boeri
and Emilie Boeri
will project as our starting low attackers. Maria Fortino
, Ryan O'Shea
and Rachel Ozer
are fighting for that final attacker spot. We have been rotating them to find the right mix. Jennifer Lang
is another attacker that is a good post up player for us."
Two-time defending MPSF Player of the Year Lauren Schmidt returns for her fifth year and should again be the top player in the conference, if not one of the best in the nation. She is joined by experienced veterans, Leslie Foard and Karen Nesbitt, giving Stanford a bevy of talent at the position. The Cardinal will again run two lines of midfielders to keep the team fresh and try to wear down opponents. This gives an opportunity for younger players to play big roles as well, including Carolyn Bradley who was one of the top freshmen in the conference last season.
"The midfield is where we have the most experience coming back," said Bokker. "Lauren Schmidt, Karen Nesbitt and Leslie Foard are our seniors coming back and we certainly expect a lot of energy coming from them. We will rotate through the midfield lines that we feel will help us push through to the end of the games and hopefully allow us to be fresher than the opponent. We will probably split the seniors up on lines to give us more even lines with Carolyn Bradley joining them. Again, we will probably fill some of that playing time with freshmen. Nina Swanson and Anna Kim have been playing really well. Maggie Sachs has been our top utility player, playing all over the field, will see time in the midfield. Jacqueline Candelaria had a really good preseason, showing a lot of stamina and along with Annie Anton will be in the mix as well."
Ashley Aruffo and Paige Farmakis return to anchor the Stanford defense that will be looking for two new starters after the departure of Eleanor Foote and Leigh Lucas to graduation. Junior Catherine Swanson has been moved from the midfield to fill one of the spots and Elizabeth Adam should see a significant increase in her role this season after playing in just seven games as a freshman.
"We have two solid starters returning from last year in Ashley Aruffo who is a senior and Paige Farmakis who is a junior captain," said Bokker. "What is nice about the two experienced players coming back is that Ashley is the aggressive player that goes hard after everything and Paige is the more cerebral player that keeps a calming attitude over everyone. We have moved Catherine Swanson back to defense, but she is someone that can facilitate fast breaks coming out of the back with her experience as a midfielder. Elizabeth Adam has stepped up to take that fourth defender role. The depth will be from Megan Lerner, Kathryn Newhouse and Amanda Hechinger, the latter two who are coming off an injury. Lerner has good size and anticipation."
Annie Read returns for her senior year after starting 38 of the last 39 Stanford contests. She has been rock solid throughout her career for Stanford and will be a big part of the success again in 2011. In addition, the Cardinal have a pair of freshmen in Lyndsey Munoz and Maxine Luckett who will push Read, something she has not had in previous season. Munoz projects to see time as a freshman and is likely the future in the cage for Stanford.
"In the cage, it is great to have the depth we have this year," said Bokker. "The experienced Annie Read is back, but with the push she has got from the two freshmen, she has gotten even better. I anticipate she will be our starter, but Lyndsey Munoz is a freshman that is making a push behind her. She is very good at distributing the ball and is active outside the cage. Maxine Luckett is our third goalie, who is doing well, but is coming off an injury from high school."