By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
With the beginning of classes still a month away, the Stanford women's soccer will start the athletic pendulum Friday when the second-ranked Cardinal opens its season with a road trip to seventh-ranked Boston College.
Stanford, which departed Wednesday morning for the East Coast, visits Boston University on Sunday before playing at top-ranked North Carolina on Friday, Aug. 27.
"We are excited to go to Boston and start the season," Stanford senior goalkeeper Kira Maker said. "We have a great incoming freshman class to add a spark to the team. I think we do have players that will step up and do great."
Stanford ended the Eagles season last year with a 3-1 victory in the national quarterfinals at home. The victory sent the Cardinal into the Final Four in Cary, N.C.
The Cardinal is ranked first in the Soccer America preseason poll and second in the NSCAA preseason poll.
The early season trip may not bring back fond memories of last year's run to the championship game but it will give Stanford an idea of how they stack up against a top team.
Freshman defender Kendall Romine, part of the U.S. national program, may not see much action as she tends to a sore right ankle. Other freshmen like forwards Natalie Griffen, Shelby Payne and Sydney Payne, midfielder Taylor McCann and goalkeeper Emily Oliver may get tested right away.
"Our goal will always be clinching the national title," said Maker, who has 27 career shutouts, eight from tying Nicole Barnhart's school record. "It will take hard work and a good mindset, but we know that we can do it if we put in the work."
Without Kelley O'Hara on the forward line, Christen Press and Castilleja grad Lindsay Taylor will need to adjust to a new teammate.
Sophomore Courtney Verloo, who played with the 20U women's national team over the summer, figures to get the most attention early but coach Paul Ratcliffe won't hesitate to rearrange things.
"We have more options up front now than we had in the past," Ratcliffe said. "We're just trying to find the right chemistry among those players."
The seminar begins Friday.
Stanford begins the season ranked No. 4 nationally, in the national preseason poll released by the American Volleyball Coaches Association on Tuesday.
The Cardinal, which has won four straight Pac-10 championships, returns five starters plus its libero from last year's team that went 23-8 and advanced to the Stanford Regional. The ranking marks the eighth time in the last nine years that Stanford has appeared in the top five in the preseason poll.
Among the returnees are three senior All-Americans in libero Gabi Ailes, outside hitter Alix Klineman and setter/hitter Cassidy Lichtman.
Three-time defending national champion Penn State earned the top spot in the poll, followed by Final Four participant Nebraska and national runner-up Texas.
Overall, seven Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top-25, including No. 8 Washington, No. 10 USC, No. 11 California, No. 16 UCLA, No. 18 Arizona and No. 20 Oregon.
Stanford players enjoyed a successful summer across the nation, with seven players earning all-star honors.
Stephen Piscotty was named the Alaska's League's top prospect and its league silver slugger award. Piscotty (first team), along with fellow freshman, Jake Stewart (second team), were both named to the league all star team. Piscotty hit .289 over 37 starts with 24 RBIs and 14 steals, while Stewart hit .270 with six steals in a pitching dominant wood bat Alaska League.
Brett Mooneyham earned a spot on Team USA and won a silver medal at the World University Championships in Japan. The lefthander had a 2-0 record and 0.82 ERA in four appearances, three starts.
All-Star teammates in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, Kenny Diekroeger finished seventh with a .354 batting average, and tenth in slugging (.446). Mark Appel started the mid season all-star game and finished first in the league in wins (6) and seventh in ERA (1.87).
Fellow all stars, Eric Smith and Chris Reed starred for Torrington. Smith hit .516, while Reed had a 1.09 ERA over 11 appearances, striking out 39 in 33 innings.
Danny Sandbrink ranked in the top-3 in five categories as an all-star in the St. Louis Metro League, leading the league in wins (7) and ERA (1.26), finishing second in strikeouts (57), and third in innings (50) and opponent batting average (.184).
Jordan Pries, who threw a no-hitter and had a 1.23 ERA, and Scott Snodgress, who had a 3.97 ERA both played for Yarmouth-Dennis.
In the Northeast, A.J. Talt had a 2.53 ERA out of the bullpen, while teammate Garrett Hughes had a 2.62 ERA over 24 innings over six games and three starts for Hampton, while Sahil Bloom had a 3.52 ERA over 30 2/3 innings and Elliott Byers had a 2.70 ERA over 12 relief appearances for New Bedford.
Ben Clowe (.370), Kellen McColl (.338) and Jack Mosbacher (.324) all hit over .300 as starters for the semi-pro Menlo Park Legends.
Other summer league players included: Scott Colton, who hit .231 in the California Collegiate League; Dean McArdle, who had a 4.36 ERA with 32 strikeouts over 33 innings for Corvallis; and Christian Griffiths, who hit .275 for New Bedford.