The preseason second-ranked Stanford women's soccer team opens its season Friday night against unranked Penn State in a Rose Bowl-worthy matchup between 2010 Pac-10 and Big Ten champs, at 7 p.m. at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
Stanford (23-1-2 last season) also- plays host to Pacific on Sunday at 1 p.m. in another nonconference match.
This will be the earliest match on the calendar in Stanford program history. The Aug. 19 date beats by a day the Aug. 20, 2010 opening date in Chestnut Hill, Mass., when Stanford tied Boston College, 1-1.
Stanford returns four All-Americans, eight all-conference players, nine starters, 19 letterwinners, and adds six newcomers. Attacking midfielder Teresa Noyola is Stanford's first two-time first-team All-American since current U.S. national team goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart (2002, 2004).
The other returning All-Americans are top returning scorer Lindsay Taylor (11 goals in '10; 2008 first team), defensive midfielder Mariah Nogueira (2009 second team), and forward Courtney Verloo (2010 third team as a central defender). In all, Stanford returns 43 of its 74 goals (58 percent), plus its entire starting defense that had 14 shutouts and allowed only 12 goals.
The Nittany Lions (11-9-1) tied Ohio State for the Big Ten title last season, at 8-2, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Penn State returns eight starters, including junior midfielder Christine Nairn, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection who was among 42 players nationally named to the Hermann Trophy watch list and is a Soccer America Preseason All-America.
Stanford players on the preseason team are Alina Garciamendez and Noyola.
Stanford Athletics debuts the "Ask Coach Shaw" feature on the Stanford Athletics Facebook page Wednesday.
The series will feature Cardinal coach David Shaw answering selected questions from Stanford fans that have been posed on the Facebook pages of Stanford Athletics and Stanford Football.
Fans can begin submitting their questions now on each of the Facebook pages. Two to three questions will be selected to ask Coach Shaw, and the video feature will be presented exclusively on the Stanford Athletics and Stanford Football Facebook pages Wednesday.
Stanford hosts California on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the first of three exhibition matches to be played over a nine-day stretch.
Other exhibitions on tap for the Cardinal include: Sunday, Aug. 21, vs. Pacific (12 p.m.) and Wednesday, Aug. 24, vs. University of Alberta (11 a.m.).
The regular season begins on Saturday, Aug. 27, when Stanford squares off against Hofstra in a neutral site contest to be played in Storrs, Ct. After starting the season at home for the previous nine years, Stanford opens on the road for the second straight year.
Men's water polo
Stanford was picked to finish third, with UCLA, according to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation preseason coaches poll released Tuesday.
California and USC were tabbed as co-favorites to win the conference title.
The Cardinal opens the season on Sept. 3 at the UC Irvine Invitational.