Stanford field hockey poised for peak performance
Senior Becky Dru heads an all-star cast as Cardinal open season
Completing one of the most impressive seasons in school history in 2011, Stanford (17-4, 6-0 NorPac) tied a school record for victories, reached its highest-ever national ranking at No. 6 and sported a top-10 RPI for the entire season. Boasting six top-20 victories, the Cardinal earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. In fact, Stanford's combined win total (32) over the previous two years ranks as the best back-to-back stretch in school history.
Stanford solidified its status as the NorPac's top program, sweeping California last year in the regular season to claim its fourth conference crown over the last five years. Stanford has won nine of the last 13 meetings versus Cal. Not bad, considering the Golden Bears entered the 2007 NorPac Tournament title game having won 18 straight in the series dating back to 2001. The last six NorPac Championship title games have resulted in a Stanford-California matchup, with the Cardinal taking four of those contests.
In addition to establishing herself as one of the most decorated players in school history, Becky Dru has also emerged as one of the nation's top performers. A 2011 Longstreth/NFHCA First Team All-American, Dru became the 14th player in school history to earn the national honor. A two-time NorPac Defensive Player of the Year, Dru posted team-leading totals last year in goals (16), points (39), shots (91) and shots on goal (50) while becoming Stanford's first leading goal scorer in back-to-back seasons since Jess Zutz (2006-07). Dru's 16 goals represented a career-high total and her 39 points were the most for a Cardinal player since Sara Hallock's 52 in 1993. In 64 career games, Dru has totaled 42 goals, 24 assists, 108 points, 246 shot attempts and 12 game-winning goals.
Dru headlines Stanford's group of 14 returnees, but there is no shortage of talent on this year's roster. Hope Burke is coming off a breakthrough season, ranking second in points (28), goals (8) and assists (12) with 36 shots. Alex McCawley earned Longstreth/NFHCA All-West Region Second Team status as a rookie, ranking second in shots (54) while tallying eight goals and five assists for 21 points. Upperclassmen Katie Mitchell (4 goals, 9 points, 21 shots), Courtney Haldeman (6 goals, 5 assists, 25 shots) and Emily Henriksson (7 goals, 23 shots) provide depth. It's also expected that sophomores Kelsey Harbin, Shannon Herold and Hannah Thiemann will make strides from promising rookie campaigns.
Stanford must find a way to replace the trio of Stephanie Byrne, Devon Holman and Ale Moss. Each of those players started all 21 games last year and contributed valuable leadership, as well. A two-time All-NorPac honoree and Longstreth/NFHCA All-West Region First Team pick in 2011, Byrne's assist total last year (16) was the most for a Cardinal player since 2009. She also established a reputation as a clutch player during her career with eight game-winning goals. Holman's totals of goals (7), assists (3), points (17) and shots (19) represented career bests. For the first time since 2007, Stanford will have someone other than Ale Moss in the cage. A four-time All-NorPac pick, Moss produced 17 shutouts and 387 saves during her career while playing an opportunistic style.
Seven newcomers highlight this season's roster and there is opportunity for immediate impact. Dulcie Davies, Stanford's lone goalkeeper, takes over in the cage and boasts an impressive resume. Maddie Secco carries a wealth of international experience and plays extremely physical. Jessica Chisholm's versatility will be a tremendous asset, as she can play multiple positions. Lauren Becker is tenacious and should provide offense as a natural goal scorer.