Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 24, 2010

Press is getting her kicks

National player of week leads No. 2 Stanford against No. 3 Portland

by Rick Eymer

Stanford senior Christen Press leapfrogged into the national lead for points after her sensational performance in the Bay Area Classic over the weekend, in which she scored five times to earn both the Pac-10 and National Player of the Week honors.

She'll be at the forefront of the Cardinal attack again this weekend, which features a 7 p.m. showdown Saturday against visiting third-ranked Portland, which owns the nation's best record at 9-0 entering play Thursday against California. Second-ranked Stanford (6-0-2) met Hawaii on Thursday night.

"Christen is an amazing player," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "Scoring five goals speaks volumes. She's deadly in front of the goal and a great leader on this team. She is emerging as one the best players in the country."

Press, who needs seven points to supplant Sarah Rafanelli as Stanford's all-time scoring leader, will be pitted against the defending national scoring champion in Pilots' junior forward Danielle Foxhoven.

"She's a great goal scorer, and she can set players up," Ratcliffe said of Press. "She's having an incredible career at Stanford, and I can't say enough about her ability."

Press is also five goals and five assists from assuming the top of Stanford's all-time lists in those categories.

"It was a great weekend in terms of finishing," Press told the Stanford Daily. "But I think I still have a lot of things I need to improve on. I need to keep more possession and work on getting around the backs and get crosses in. I plan on playing better soccer than I am right now."

Junior Camille Levin is third in the nation with a 0.88 assists per game average.

The Cardinal ended Portland's season in 2008 by beating the Pilots in the NCAA quarterfinals en route to the Final Four.

Portland, however, can boast of two national titles. Stanford is still looking for its first, having reached the Final Four three times.

The Pilots enter the week with their third-best start in school history following a 1-0 victory over No. 6 Texas A&M last Friday. Portland owns a 3-0 record against the Top 25 this season.

Stanford brings a four-match winning streak into the week and has a 3-0-2 mark against ranked opponents.

Portland returns eight starters from the nation's top-scoring offense. In addition to Foxhoven, the Pilots feature senior midfielder Sophie Schmidt and current WCC co-Player of the Week Halley Kreminski.

The Pilots have been a second-half team, outscoring opponents, 13-2.

Stanford has outscored its opponents by a 21-6 margin and recorded two shutouts.

"We have a lot of good depth on this team, and if people are getting a little tired, they need to come out to let somebody else get there and make an impact," Ratcliffe said. "It's great to see people come in off the bench and have a great impact on the game."

Portland has a 17-5 scoring edge over its opponents with five shutouts. Freshman goalie Erin Dees ranks 14th in the nation with a 0.429 GAA.

Ratcliffe has started freshman Emily Oliver in goal the past three games. She's recorded both shutouts and gave up one goal to Utah.

As an added bonus, five members of the Bay Area-based FC Gold Pride will be available for autographs during halftime.

The Gold Pride hosts the Women's Professional Soccer championship final on Sunday at Hayward's Pioneer Stadium against either the Boston Breakers or Philadelphia Independence, at 2:30 p.m.

The players are graduates of either Stanford or Portland: WPS goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart (Stanford), Rookie of the Year Ali Riley (Stanford), 2009 Hermann Trophy winner Kelley O'Hara (Stanford), U.S. national team great Tiffeny Milbrett (Portland), and all-time Canadian national-team scoring leader Christine Sinclair (Portland).

Women's volleyball

Stanford senior Alix Klineman is healthy and that's likely to make a lot of Pac-10 coaches sick.

The three-time All-American outside hitter has successfully dealt with shoulder problems in the past. Now that she can swing freely, her kill numbers have risen and she's off to the best start of her career.

Klineman has 146 total kills, averaging 4.87 per set, nearly doubling her total of 79 (2.72) at this point last season. She averaged 4.34 kills a set after nine matches of her freshman year.

Top-ranked Stanford (9-0) opens Pac-10 play Friday at Arizona State in search of its fifth consecutive conference title. The Sun Devils (5-7) are the only conference team with a record below .500 and they're still dangerous.

Three of Arizona State's losses have been to ranked opponents and another was to an unranked, unbeaten team. The Sun Devils were swept once.

The Pac-10 is considered the best women's volleyball conference in the country. There are currently five undefeated teams entering conference play this weekend. Two others have at least 10 victories and two or fewer losses. Washington State and Oregon State are a combined 13-11.

Six conference teams are ranked among the top 15 in the country, including four of the top eight. No other conference has any more than four teams ranked in the Top 25.

Senior Cassidy Lichtman averages 3.03 kills and 6.13 assists per set and is the team's second-leading scorer behind Klineman.

Freshmen Rachel Williams and Carly Wopat and sophomore Hayley Spelman are quietly putting together solid seasons. All three have at least 52 kills, while Wopat leads the team with 27 blocks, just ahead of Lichtman's 25, and is the team's third-leading scorer. Williams and Spelman are fourth and fifth, respectively.

Cross country

The Stanford Invitational is slated for Saturday on the Stanford Golf Course, with 12 high school races scheduled. The first race is set for 9 a.m.

The men's college race gets underway at 10:50 a.m. and the women's race will go off at about 11:30 a.m.

Stanford traditionally uses its invitational to showcase its full team for the first time. The men are currently ranked first in the nation while the women are ranked 13th.

Six-time All-American Chris Derrick, third at the national championship race last year, competed with the U.S. junior cross country team in 2009.

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