Over the last 20 years, No. 21 Stanford women’s soccer (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) has won 10 conference titles. It’s won three national championships. It’s even sent 43 players to the pros. But it hasn’t played against an entire country’s national team. Not until now.
On Sunday night, the Cardinal will host the Chinese National Team, the 16th ranked team in the world, in front of a sold-out Cagan Stadium crowd which estimates to be north of 1,900 fans. The last time Stanford faced an international opponent was the team’s 2002 spring season, when they defeated the Mexican National Team 2-0. At that time, many players on this year’s team were not even born yet.
Head coach Paul Ratcliffe views the game as an opportunity to learn more about his young team, which rosters nine freshmen.
“It’s going be a real test,” Ratcliffe said. “I think whenever you play an international opponent, it’ll be a difficult match and we’ll learn a lot about our team and what we need to do to be the best team moving forward.”
Team China enters the match following draw with UC Berkeley on Saturday night. The team is spending the month in the U.S. playing exhibitions against professional and college programs. China has reportedly scheduled 8-10 matches in California and two in Kansas.
Although an opponent of this magnitude won’t be a cakewalk, the Stanford players are anything but afraid.
“We’re excited. We’re really, really excited to get after it,” said freshman forward Lumi Kostmayer, who scored in her career debut Thursday during the team’s 5-0 season opener victory over Sonoma State. “We really have a good test before the season starts.”
The Cardinal have just one game under their belt so far, but with big goals and a chip on their shoulder, Sunday night’s game is sure to bring fans 90 minutes of strong, competitive soccer.
The exhibition is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. PT at Cagan Stadium. The game can be watched online through the Stanford Live Stream.