Sports

Stanford field hockey is ready to take it to the next level

When No. 12 Stanford opens its field hockey season this weekend at home, it will do so with an experienced group of players determined to capture a NorPac title and their first NCAA Tournament victory.

The Cardinal returns eight starters and 16 letter-winners from last year's squad that claimed its fifth straight NorPac West regular-season title and made its eighth consecutive NorPac Championship game. Stanford continued to showcase why it is the premier team in the West and one of the country's top programs, finishing 16-5 overall and spending each week ranked 13th or higher in the Longstreth/NFHCA Coaches Poll -- including matching a program-best No. 6 ranking in two consecutive weeks.

The Cardinal boasts plenty of experience with 12 upperclassmen, including a strong six-member senior class. Among the returning upperclassmen are Longstreth/NFHCA All-Region selections Kelsey Harbin, Alex McCawley and Maddie Secco. Harbin was also named a first-team All-American and the NorPac West Player of the Year.

Stanford also will look to its talented group of seven freshmen and four sophomores to provide significant contributions throughout the season.

Stanford will be led by captains Harbin, Shannon Herold and Elise Ogle. The trio was selected by their teammates to guide them this season. Harbin is a two-time All-America and was a Longstreth/NFHCA West Region First Team selection in each of the past two seasons.

Herold started all 21 games in 2013 and was a staple in the midfield. She scored two goals last season and both came at crucial times. She notched a game-winning goals at California in overtime in the regular-season finale and against Longwood in the NorPac semifinal game.

Ogle returns to The Farm for her fifth year (redshirted 2011) and will help solidify the Cardinal's midfield. She was a balanced contributor in 2013, registering three goals and three assists. She tied for second on the team with a .750 shots-on-goal percentage (9-for-12) and was a strong contributor on defense.

The Cardinal will play one of the nation's most challenging nonconference schedules with five meetings against teams ranked in the top 20 of the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I National Coaches Preseason Poll. Stanford will face off against four 2013 NCAA Tournament teams, including Delaware, Liberty, New Hampshire and national champion Connecticut.

The season begins at home Friday against No. 18 Delaware at 3 p.m. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. Stanford will complete the season-opening homestand Sunday at noon in a rematch of last year's NorPac Championship game against Liberty.

Taking on the nation's best is nothing new for the Cardinal, which played seven teams that earned bids to the 2013 NCAA Tournament and went 4-3 against top-20 opponents, with three of those wins coming on the road.

Stanford's Class of 2018 includes Sarah Helgeson, Marissa Cicione, Katie Keyser, Millie Stefanowicz, Sydney Shaw, Maddy Belin and Ashley Watson. The group consists of four individuals from Pennsylvania, two from California and one from New York.

A year after state-of-the-art field turf was added to the Varsity Turf, the stadium continues to receive improvements with new stadium seating this year. The new grandstand gives fans an improved viewing experience and increases stadium capacity to nearly 1,000.

Bringing International Experience to The Farm

Stanford had three players spend time with national teams this summer, including Harbin (USA), Maddie Secco (Canada) and Clemence Couteau (France). Harbin became the fourth Stanford player to be named to Team USA after being selected to the 30-player roster at the 2014 Women's National Championship.

Secco was named to the Canadian Women's National Team for the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. She was one of 16 players selected to the team and competed at the tournament July 23-Aug. 3. She has made 31 appearances with the national team and helped Team Canada win a bronze medal at the 2013 Pan American Cup.

Couteau was one of 18 players named to the U-21 French National Team for the Fintro EuroHockey Junior Championship Tournament. She competed at the tournament July 20-26 in Waterloo, Belgium.

— Stanford Athletics

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