W. Soccer: Card reaches midway point of Pac-12 season at ASU

Oct. 14, 2011, 1:47 a.m.
Junior defender Alina Garciamendez, left, and the Cardinal have played spectacular defense this year, going nearly 700 minutes without forfeiting a goal before UCLA scored in the first half last Sunday. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

The Cardinal has enjoyed a week of impressive wins, streaks and milestones, all of which the squad will look to extend as it travels to Arizona State tonight.

Head coach Paul Ratcliffe won his 200th game last weekend as No. 1 Stanford (13-0-1, 5-0 Pac-12) won in impressive fashion over USC and No. 3 UCLA. The Card currently enjoys a 57-game regular-season unbeaten streak, a perfect stretch of 43 consecutive home victories and 25 straight conference wins.

The Sun Devils (6-7-0, 2-3-0) are currently eighth in the Pac-12 and split their most recent series, falling to No. 18 Oregon State 2-1 before defeating Oregon 4-0.

Stanford opened its conference play by destroying Arizona 7-0. However, the Cardinal nearly fell on its ensuing road trip to the average Washington and Washington State, escaping with a pair of 1-0 wins on late goals.

Ratcliffe doesn’t believe the team will overlook the under-matched Sun Devils.

“Every game is a hard game, you can’t take anyone lightly, and if we play our best and keep everyone healthy, we’ll see what happens in the rest of the Pac-12,” he said.

Last weekend’s offensive explosion should be an encouragement for a team that, besides the rout of the Wildcats, had rarely won by wide margins this year. Interestingly enough, though Stanford was outshot by the Bruins last Sunday, marking the first time this season the Cardinal did not end a match leading in that category. The tally may not be indicative of the team’s performance, however.

“I didn’t notice that,” said junior defender Alina Garciamendez. “But UCLA is a very good team, you have to give them credit for that — they did well.”

After Arizona State, the Cardinal only has five games remaining before the postseason; all five are against lower-ranked Pac-12 opponents, culminating in a matchup with Cal on Nov. 5. Stanford will try to wrap up its third consecutive conference title before turning its attention to the NCAA Tournament.

Ratcliffe, the team’s coach for the past eight years, has now won 201 games and has taken the team to the postseason every year as head coach; however, he has yet to bring a championship to the Farm. The team has lost in the national championship game for the past two years in a row.

The Cardinal cannot afford to look ahead yet, though. Ratcliffe hopes to keep the squad in tune this week.

“I think we need to learn from [the UCLA] game a little bit,” Ratcliffe said. “I think I want to see the speed of play increase a little bit, just from the first 15 to 20 minutes, but we’ll keep doing things like business as usual, keeping everyone sharp, and we’re excited to play Friday at Arizona State.”

The game will be televised nationally on Fox Soccer at 7 p.m. Friday.

Joseph Beyda contributed to this report.

Billy Gallagher is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. He has previously worked at The Daily as editor in chief, a managing editor of news, news desk editor, sports desk editor and staff development editor. He is a junior from Villanova, PA majoring in Economics. He is also a writer for TechCrunch.

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