After having its matches against Santa Clara and University of San Francisco canceled, Stanford women’s soccer (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) will now begin its season on Friday as it takes on visiting Pepperdine (1-1, 0-0 WCC).
Heading into this game, the Cardinal will have to focus on finishing shots. In the 2019 season, despite outshooting the Waves 22-3, Stanford lost to Pepperdine by a score of 1-0.
The Cardinal have lost many players that would have been crucial this time around. Then-senior forward Catarina Macario and then-sophomore forward Sophia Smith left the team after deciding to go pro, leaving the Cardinal to learn to function and adjust to the new dynamic on offense. Senior forward Madison Haley, who will be playing for the Chicago Red Stars next season, will be crucial in helping lead the new offense.
Also pivotal in filling the void will be redshirt junior forward Civiana Kuhlmann, who was on the 2020 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, and sophomore midfielder Maya Doms, who was on the 2019 TopDrawerSoccer Freshman Best XI first team.
Fans will also wait to see how freshman midfielder Amy Sayer performs. The star athlete, a member of the Australian National Team, has incredible potential.
The defense may have similar problems adjusting. Although senior defender Kiki Pickett, who was the fourth overall pick in the NWSL Draft, can instruct the team from the back, the Cardinal is missing junior defender Naomi Girma. Girma, who was the 2019 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, recently tore her ACL and will be out for the season.
Alongside Pickett, sophomore defender Kennedy Wesley will work to fill the gap. Wesley was chosen for the 2019 All-Pac-12 freshman team.
All things considered, it could be a tight match to start off the 2021 spring season. Fans can live stream the game on the Pac-12 website. Kick-off is set for 5 p.m. P.T.