By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
A new coach, a new year, a top-20 ranking and a new sense of confidence gives the Stanford field hockey team a running start into the season, which opens Friday at host Pacific at 4 p.m. in a NorPac contest.
The Cardinal (17-5 last year) set a school record in victories, won the NorPac tournament championship for the third straight season, won its second NCAA Play-In game in three seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in school history.
Stanford's record-setting season was due in large part to its high-powered offense, as the Cardinal established single-season school records in goals (87), assists (60), points (234) and shots (410).
And for the first time in 12 years, Stanford also has a returning All-American on its roster in senior Xanthe Travlos. Justina Williams was a junior third team All-American in 1998.
Travlos led the Cardinal with 17 goals, 38 points, 70 shots and 52 shots on goal. The 17 goals were the most by a Stanford player since Sara Hallock had 25 of them in 1993.
The philosophy major was a second team All-American pick by the NFHCA and a first team selection by WomensFieldHockey.com.
She's joined by senior Camille Gandhi, recognized by WomensFieldHockey.com as a second team all-American pick. Gandhi has been a NorPac Player of the Year (2208), a NorPac Rookie of the Year (2207) and a member of the United States national U-21 team, which won a gold medal at the Junior Pan Am Games in 2008.
While Travlos and Gandhi are the most decorated of the returning starters, seniors Jaimee Erickson, Katherine Swank, Heather Alcorn and Katherine Donner all provided key contributions and bring NCAA tournament experience to the season.
First-year coach Tara Danielson has plenty of senior leadership to lean upon as she helps direct Stanford forward.
Danielson has been involved in field hockey at every level, including as a CEO of a non-profit organization that helped develop the sport in Southern California. She was a national team member for seven years and has coached at Boston College, Connecticut and Sacred Heart.
A graduate of Massachusetts, Danielson was a four-year letter winner and the Minutewomen reached the NCAA tournament all four years she was there, including a semifinal finish.
Junior forward Stephanie Byrne and junior goalkeeper Alessandra Moss are also key returning players.
Moss was a first team All-NorPac pick last year as she played every minute of every game for the Cardinal, recording a 1.63 GAA. Byrne was the NorPac Rookie of the Year in 2008 and scored the game-winning goal in last year's 3-2 win over Boston University that sent Stanford to the NCAA tournament.
Becky Dru leads a talented group of sophomores, which also incude Katie Mitchell, Alysha Sekhon, Kelsey Lloyd and Devon Holman.
Dru is the reigning NorPac Rookie of the Year and was also named first team all-NorPac. She was second on the team with 13 goals, 33 points, 67 shots and 43 shots on goal.
Lloyd played in 21 games and recorded seven points on three goals and an assist. Mitchell started three games and appeared in 15, while both Sekhorn and Holman also saw action.
There's plenty of talent in the eight-player freshman class as well. Hope Burke is a two-time all-state selection from Pennsylvania and Courtney Haldeman is a two-time state pick from Maryland.
Anna Simmons is a two-time West regional All-American, Maria Posa is also a regional All-American and Elise Ogle is a two-time Central Coast Section first team pick out of Gilroy and holds the school record for the 1,600 meters.
Julia LaSalvia, Emily Henriksson and Colleen Ryan each used their redshirt season last year.
STANFORD FIELD HOCKEY SCHEDULE
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 27 at Pacific 4 p.m.
Sept. 3 vs. UC Davis 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 vs. Michigan St. noon
Sept. 10 at Kent State 10 a.m.
Sept. 11 vs. Iowa at Kent 10 a.m.
Sept. 13 vs. Robert Morris at Kent 11 a.m.
Sept. 19 vs. California 1 p.m.
Sept. 26 at North Carolina 10 a.m.
Sept. 27 at Wake Forest noon
Oct. 2 at UC Davis 3 p.m.
Oct. 8 vs. Harvard 5 p.m.
Oct. 15 at Syracuse 9 a.m.
Oct. 17 at Rutgers 10 a.m.
Oct. 18 at Northeastern 11 a.m.
Oct. 24 vs. Pacific 1 p.m.
Nov. 4 at NorPac in Davidson, N.C. TBA
Nov. 5 at NorPac in Davidson, N.C. TBA
Nov. 6 at NorPac in Davidson, N.C. TBA