Aug. 26, 2010
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -
Complete Release in PDF Format
The premier nonconference match in the country takes place Friday at 3 p.m. PT in Chapel Hill, N.C., in a classic No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup that acts as a rematch of the 2009 NCAA championship final. On Dec. 6, Stanford was the No. 1 team and riding a 25-match winning streak when the teams met in College Station, Texas. North Carolina won, 1-0, and this time enters with the top ranking. Stanford is 1-0-1 and UNC is 2-0. The match is part of the Carolina Nike Classic that resumes for Stanford on Sunday at 8 a.m. PT against No. 25 Duke (1-0).
For North Carolina: Live stats are available via Gametracker, which can be found at gostanford.com. Also, Stanford will provide Twitter updates from its team page at http://twitter.com/stanfordwsoccer. The match will be broadcast locally on WCHL radio. For live streaming audio, go to wchl1360.com.
For Duke: Live stats are available via Gametracker, as well as Twitter updates at twitter.com/stanfordwsoccer, which can be found through a link on gostanford.com.
No. 1 vs. No. 2
North Carolina leads both the NSCAA and Soccer America rankings, with Stanford No. 2 in both. Stanford was the preseason No. 1 in Soccer America, but dropped a spot after its 1-1 season-opening draw at Boston College. In the NCAA final, Stanford was No. 1 and riding a 25-match win streak, while North Carolina entered the match at No. 4 in the NSCAA rankings. In the final rankings, UNC (23-3-1) was No. 1 and Stanford (25-1) No. 2.
NCAA final recap
Stanford was playing in its first NCAA final when it took on the Tar Heels in the cold rain of College Station, Texas, on Dec. 6, 2009. However, the Cardinal conceded a goal only 2 minutes, 50 seconds into the match, on a first-timed shot by Jessica McDonald in the six-yard box. Stanford was outshot, shut out, and outplayed for the first times all season, and lost its best player, Kelley O'Hara, to a red card in the 73rd minute. However, the shorthanded Cardinal appeared to equalize in the 89th minute on a long shot by Christen Press. But the score was nullified by a disputed offsides call, and was the second Stanford goal called back during the match. McDonald's goal held in the 1-0 North Carolina victory.
The North Carolina Series
Stanford has never beaten North Carolina, trailing 0-8-2 in the series that began in 1989. Stanford drew 0-0 in their first meeting, before being outscored 18-2 during a five-match stretch from 1992-96. They've played the past two years, drawing 1-1 at Stanford in 2008 and with North Carolina winning the 2009 NCAA final, 1-0. They've played only once in Chapel Hill, a 6-1 UNC victory in 1996.
Comments from Coach Paul Ratcliffe
Speaking from a Boston hotel earlier this week before leaving for North Carolina on Wednesday to complete a 12-day, four-match season-opening road trip, Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe felt good about his team's chances in a rematch against North Carolina.
With North Carolina as the defending national champion, current No. 1 ranked team, and playing at home, Ratcliffe said his team was under no outside pressure.
"We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain," he said. "The team is excited to play North Carolina. It's going to be a great test for us, and a great opportunity."
Stanford opened at No. 7 Boston College, and in the coming weeks will play nonconference matches against No. 5 Portland and No. 8 Santa Clara, in addition to its Pac-10 Conference showdown against No. 3 UCLA.
Ratcliffe said the tough schedule was meant to expose weaknesses in his team, which it can work toward improving for the Pac-10 season and the NCAA Tournament.
"Every time you play an opponent, you learn from it," Ratcliffe said. "By playing these types of teams, we hope to learn a lot."
Though he used the same lineup in the first two matches -- a 1-1 draw against B.C. and a 2-1 victory over Boston University -- Ratcliffe said he hasn't settled on a starting 11 and is eager to look at different players in different situations.
"There will be changes," he said. "I'm still trying to figure out the best lineup."
As for the team's goals against the Tar Heels:
"We want to win the game," he said. "But ultimately, we want to get better as a team."
Stanford in Boston
Stanford went 1-0-1 on its season-opening weekend in Boston, tying No. 7 Boston College on Friday, and beating unranked Boston University on Sunday, 2-1. Lindsay Taylor gave the Cardinal the lead against B.C., in the 56th-minute on a 23-yard strike, only for the Eagles to draw even. Stanford outshot B.C. 7-0 in the two overtime periods, but goalkeeper Jillian Mastroianni had 10 saves in the match, including many in the clutch. Sydney Payne and Christen Press scored against B.U., allowing Stanford to build a 2-0 first-half lead.
Friday's Opponent: North Carolina
The Tar Heels have won 21 national championships and, though they graduated six starters, remain a powerhouse. North Carolina has two players on Soccer America's preseason All-America list: senior defender Rachel Givan and senior midfielder Ali Hawkins. Another standout is returning starter Courtney Jones, who wears No. 84, the number her father Brent wore as a tight end for the San Francisco 49ers. North Carolina won its opener impressively, with a 3-0 victory at No. 8 Texas A&M, and followed with a 3-0 victory over Michigan State.
Sunday's Opponent: Duke
The Blue Devils moved into the NSCAA rankings by beating Georgia, 1-0, in their opener. Senior defender Molly Lester scored her first collegiate goal, with a 15-yard strike in the first half, after missing two of the past three seasons with injuries. Duke finished 8-9-4 last season and was sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, yet advanced to the NCAA Tournament before losing in the first round to Rutgers, 2-0. Duke plays defending Big 12 regular-season champion Missouri on Friday in the opening match of the Carolina Nike Classic.
The Duke Series
Stanford holds a 5-1 series lead with each match played from 1989 to 1996. All of Stanford's victories came by one goal, with Duke winning the most recent meeting, 3-0, also in Chapel Hill.
Following this 12-day, four-match trip, Stanford will have nearly two weeks before its next action. The Cardinal will play its home opener on Friday, Sept. 10, with a 7 p.m. contest with Georgia, and then plays Pacific on Sept. 12, at 2 p.m. Both matches are part of the Stanford Nike Invitational, which also includes Santa Clara. Stanford carries a 22-match home winning streak and a 26-match home unbeaten streak into its home opener. Stanford hasn't lost at home since the 2007 season when it fell to Connecticut, 2-0, on Nov. 23, in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
Stanford placed more players on the Soccer America Preseason All-America team than any other school. Three Cardinal were among the 25 to make the list. Sophomore defenders Alina Garciamendez and Rachel Quon, and senior forward Christen Press were the players selected. Garciamendez and Quon each started for their countries in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in July, Garciamendez as a central defender for Mexico and Quon is an outside back for the U.S. Press has been active with the U.S. Under-23 national team.
Three Cardinal on Hermann Trophy Watch List
Three Stanford players -- senior Christen Press and sophomores Mariah Nogueira and Rachel Quon -- have been named to the watch list for the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy, awarded each year to the top collegiate player in the country. They are among 47 women from 30 schools. One of those players will succeed Stanford's Kelley O'Hara, now with FC Gold Pride of Women's Professional Soccer, as the winner. Press was a semifinalist in 2009.
Stanford the Pick of the Pac-10
The Cardinal received a maximum nine first-place votes to finish on top in the Pac-10 preseason coaches poll. The defending champion Cardinal has won six Pac-10 titles and enters the season on an 11-match conference winning streak.
The following are the results of the preseason coaches' poll. Points were awarded on a 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. First-place votes are in parentheses.
1. Stanford (9) 81 points; 2. UCLA (1) 73; 3. USC 58; 4. California 53; 5. Oregon State 50; 6. Washington State 41; 7. Washington 37; 8. Arizona State 25; 9. Oregon 22; 10. Arizona 10.
Stanford opens Pac-10 play Oct. 8 against USC in the Los Angeles Coliseum.