Women’s soccer looks to reclaim top ranking as it opens season at Penn State

Aug. 23, 2019, 1:07 p.m.

The same excitement of this summer’s Women’s World Cup is present at Cagan Stadium for No. 3 Stanford women’s soccer. The Cardinal, however, are more accustomed to sitting at the top of the polls. Before the program-record 45-game win streak was snapped in the semifinals of the 2018 College Cup to eventual champion Florida State, Stanford had held the No. 1 spot since Oct. 10, 2017.

In fact, an SB Nation article aiming to map out the future of the U.S. Women’s National Team (UWNT) named a total of ten current and former Cardinal stars. Included in that list were Kelley O’Hara ‘10, Christen Press ‘11, and Tierna Davidson ‘20, who returned from France with the World Cup trophy this year. The article also described sophomore forward Sophia Smith as, “The most obvious candidate for USWNT stardom in the future.” 

Alongside Smith, who has already made her debut for the senior squad, two other current Cardinal, sophomore center back Naomi Girma and the reigning Hermann Trophy-winner junior forward Catarina Macario, are expected in the USWNT’s future plans. 

An ESPN article of ten players to look for included four Cardinal between Macario, Smith, Andi Sullivan ’18 and Alana Cook ’19.

“Being surrounded by players like Naomi and Cat helps everyone get better,” Smith said. “It helps set the team’s standards higher and it’s just fun.

“I could have gone somewhere where I was the only one like that on the team, and I think while that might have been fun, and you get all of the attention and what not, it’s not ultimately pushing me to be the best player,” Smith added.

Women's soccer looks to reclaim top ranking as it opens season at Penn State
Sophia Smith (above) is one of a host of young, talented Cardinal players that are on a trajectory to the national team. First, they will have to battle through the ranks of the collegiate soccer world. (JIM SHORIN/isiphotos.com)

With an early-August exhibition match against Missouri as its only form of competitive play (Stanford won 7-0), the Cardinal will hit the road to face No. 6 Penn State and No. 11 West Virginia in State College, PA. After the East Coast matches, the team will return home to face Pennsylvania and San Jose State on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, respectively.

Following those two competitions will be a five-game stretch of road matches, with the last of those matches, against No. 5 USC, beginning the 11-game Pac-12 slate. Stanford is poised to repeat as conference champions for the fifth-straight year, and the conference agrees, with seven of 12 coaches selecting the Cardinal to finish in first place. 

In order to do so, head coach Paul Ratcliffe will have to answer some major personnel questions. Senior goalkeeper Lauren Rood is the presumptive choice to replace Alison Jahansouz ’18 in the goal, and was given the #1 jersey. Sophomore Katie Meyer served as the backup goalkeeper in the exhibition with Missouri. 

With the departure of two-year captain Cook, who started all 93 games during her time on the Farm, Stanford will also need to find a new center back. Sophomore Naomi Girma stepped into the role last year, but whoever will play alongside her will remain a mystery until the first lineup is released.

In terms of offense, redshirt junior Sam Tran, junior Civana Kuhlmann, and Macario made up the front line during the last of three 30-minute periods against Missouri, in which Stanford put away six goals. Macario scored three and assisted on three more, and both Kuhlmann and sophomore Abby Greubel each finished with a pair of scores in the game. 

Greubel played in the midfield alongside redshirt freshman Sierra Enge and senior Beattie Goad. Junior Belle Briede, sophomore Bianca Caetano-Ferrara, and freshman Maya Doms played the first and third periods, and appear to slot in as the second midfield squad. 

Doms is one of six freshmen that Ratcliffe will seek to incorporate in this roster, for which the sky’s the limit. Not only is the championship the expectation, but with the Final Four hosted at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, the championship is destiny. 

The journey begins with today’s match against Penn State. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. PT from State College, PA.

Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Daniel Martinez-Krams '22 is a staff writer in the sports section. He is a Biology major from Berkeley, California. Please contact him with tips or feedback at dmartinezkrams ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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