By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Three matches remain in the regular season and the top-ranked Stanford women's soccer team appears headed for more postseason success.
Of course, if you're Cardinal coach Paul Ratcliffe, you're not even thinking about anything but the team's final road conference match at California with a schedule 3 p.m. first kick Saturday.
Stanford (6-0, 15-0-2), the only undefeated team in the country, extended its winning streak to 14 last weekend with a road sweep at Arizona State and at Arizona.
Stanford won both matches by the score of 3-0, the first conference road trip with consecutive shutouts since 2007 in Oregon.
Freshman goalkeeper Emily Oliver recorded both shutouts, giving her five for the season. Stanford has a total of eight. Castilleja grad Lindsay Taylor scored in each match.
National scoring leader Christen Press recorded her 40th career assist on Friday, tying Stanford's all-time record. She added her 19th goal of the season on Sunday.
Press has scored a goal or an assist in all but the season's opening match. Her point streak is at 16 matches heading into Saturday's match.
Stanford also brings a 17-match consecutive winning streak to bear in Pac-10 play, with its last loss to UCLA on Oct. 31, 2008. In that span, Stanford has scored at least two goals in every match and has played only three decided by one-goal margins.
Cal will be without senior forward Alex Morgan, who is with the United States national team.
The match features the Pac-10's highest-scoring teams. Stanford averages 3.00 goals to Cal's 2.31. Stanford leads the all-time series, 15-10-4, and is 3-0-1 against the Bears over the past three seasons. Cal last won in 2006 in Berkeley, where the Cardinal is 4-6-2 all-time.
Stanford is the top-rated team in the RPI, and there are a few surprises among Pac-10 teams in those rankings. Arizona State is at No. 13, followed by UCLA at No. 19. ASU is 2-2-1 and UCLA is 2-3 in conference play. Oregon State (5-0), which is tied with Stanford for first in the Pac-10 in the loss column, is No. 27, fifth among Pac-10 teams.
Press is tied for the national lead in goals with Marky Boyce of Charleston Southern. Both have 19. Press leads the nation in points, with 45.
Fourth-ranked Stanford (7-2, 16-2) opens the second half of the conference season at No. 18 Oregon on Friday at 7 p.m.
Senior libero Gabi Ailes became just the seventh player in Pac-10 history to register over 1,900 career kills. She's 86 digs shy of 2,000. Her 4.50 career digs per set average is also the seventh-best mark ever by a Pac-10 player.
The Cardinal leads the nation in hitting percentage with a .327 despite getting outhit in a four-set loss to California over the weekend.
Stanford is ranked second nationally with 15.10 kills per set and 14.21 assists per set. Senior Alix Klineman is among the national leaders in kills (5.75, 2nd), points (6.32, 2nd) and hitting percentage (.386, 28th).
Stanford is in a must-win situation if it entertains thoughts of returning to the NCAA tournament for a second straight season.
After losing at UCLA and San Diego State last weekend by identical 1-0 scores, the Cardinal (3-4, 7-8) needs to rebound against visiting Washington at 7 p.m. Friday and visiting Oregon State on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Stanford, currently ranked 71st in the RPI, needs to finish above .500 to earn consideration.
Sunday's game against Oregon State will be Senior Day. Shaun Culver, Daniel Leon, Cameron Lamming, Thiago Sa Freire, Ryan Thomas, Bobby Warshaw and Dominique Yahyavi will be honored.
The top-ranked Stanford men seek to defend its Pac-10 title Saturday in Seattle. Last season, Stanford won the Pac-10 championship in commanding fashion, scoring 28 points, while second-place Oregon had 45.
The No. 9 women will be looking for its first Pac-10 title since 2007 when the Cardinal completed its streak of 12 straight conference titles. Last year the women finished fourth, a point out of third.
Men's water polo
Returning from an ACL tear that forced him to redshirt, senior Sage Wright has been an anchor for the youthful Cardinal, ranked fourth nationally.
Wright has 21 goals, including a hat trick to lead the Cardinal past No. 10 Pepperdine, 15-6, in Malibu on Sunday.
Stanford travels to Santa Clara for a 6 p.m. nonconference contest Friday.
Coach Caroline O'Connor announced former LPGA Tour player and two-time Solheim Cup team member Kathryn Imrie has joined the Cardinal staff as an assistant coach.
Imrie played professionally between 1993-2009. She played on the Ladies European Tour from 1991 to 2008, and the LPGA Tour from 1993 to 2006.
Imrie captured her lone LPGA title in 1995 when she won the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic at Highlands Meadows with an 8-under par 205, becoming the first Scot to win at LPGA Tour event.
Stanford sophomore Eddie Penev returned from Europe after competing on the World stage.
Penev competed for Bulgaria at the 2010 World Championships in the all-around and made the final in the floor exercise.
Penev competed in all six events during the team qualification portion of the competition. Bulgaria placed 18th and failed to advance to the final, eventually won by China. Penev led Bulgaria by placing 47th individually in qualifying. His score of 15.066 on floor and 16.200 on vault were tops for the Bulgaria team.
The score on floor was also among the top eight in the competition and advanced Penev to the event final. In the final, Penev again scored 15.066 and placed tied for sixth in the World.
Stanford and California square off Friday night in the regular season finale for both teams, with the NorPac's West Division regular season title on the line.
Stanford (4-1, 10-5) has been a fixture in the Kookaburra/NFHCA Division Top 20, having spent a school-record 17 consecutive weeks in the rankings dating to Sept. 18, 2009.
Reaching the 10-win mark for the second straight season, Stanford also upset No. 8 Wake Forest 4-2 on the road, hung tough with No. 1 North Carolina in a 2-1 loss and came within minutes of knocking off No. 7 Michigan State (3-2) and No. 8 Syracuse (2-1 in overtime).
California (5-0, 8-7) has an edge in the conference standings. California defeated Stanford earlier in the season so the Golden Bears are assured of at least a share of the NorPac regular season championship.
Both Stanford and California will likely end up meeting again for the third time this year in next week's NorPac Championship, but Friday's result will provide momentum and higher seeding for the winner.