By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
The Stanford women's soccer team may have a five-game winning streak against Santa Clara, but the Broncos have pretty much owned the top-ranked Cardinal over the years.
Santa Clara hasn't won since 2006, but the Broncos are good enough to give Stanford all it can handle.
Stanford, which beat host Portland, 2-0, on Thursday night, visits Santa Clara on Sunday night in a featured matchup at venerable Buck Shaw Stadium at 8 p.m.
Palo Alto grad Teresa Noyola scored late in the first half to give Stanford its lead. Kristy Zurmuhlen added a second-half goal, with an assist from Noyola.
The Cardinal (7-0-1) moved into the top spot in the national rankings this week. Santa Clara (3-0-4) is currently ranked 18th.
The Broncos have allowed a total of five goals on the season while Stanford is tied for eighth in the nation in scoring with 3.29 goals per game.
Castilleja grad Lindsay Taylor leads Stanford with six goals and two assists for 14 points. She's the reigning National Player of the Week and the Pac-12 Player of the Week after helping the Cardinal beat Notre Dame in come-from-behind fashion last weekend.
The Cardinal has spread its scoring around this season, with Noyola recording five goals and freshman Chioma Ubogagu adding four. Six other players have scored at least once through eight games.
Stanford is close to being at full strength. Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Oliver was back in the net after a close encounter of the worst kind with the post last Friday.
Aly Gleason made her first career start and recorded a shutout in a 2-0 win over 15th-ranked UC Irvine on Sunday.
Defender Kendall Romine continues to be bothered by injuries, though Madeleine Thompson has been effective in her place. Romine was able to play against the Pilots.
Defender Rachel Quon and midfielder Mariah Nogueira returned from injuries to play last weekend.
Versatile Courtney Verloo, who is on the Hermann Trophy watch list, has yet to play this season.
Research by collegesoccer360.com has revealed that Stanford's senior class has the highest four-year record (76-4-4, .929) among any Division I school through last weekend. Portland is third on that list. Stanford's seniors are: defender Camille Levin, Noyola, Taylor and midfielder Kristy Zurmuhlen.
Men's water polo
Fourth-ranked Stanford (1-0) gets its season going in earnest this weekend at the NorCal tournament at Pacific in Stockton.
The Cardinal meets nationally ranked St. Francis College on Saturday morning and will play either the host Tigers or Santa Clara later in the day.
Stanford opened its season, officially, with a 16-0 drubbing of NAIA power Fresno Pacific, its first shutout since at least 1994, at the UC Irvine Invitational two weeks ago. The three other matches against Division I schools were declared scrimmages.
Fifth-year senior driver Sam Finlayson scored twice against the Sunbirds in his first game in four years.
Second-ranked Stanford (6-1) looks to get back on track Friday night when Pac-12 newcomer Utah pays a visit to Maples Pavilion for a 7 p.m. first serve.
The Cardinal lost at top-ranked California in four sets on Tuesday night, its third straight defeat to the Bears, who reached last year's national championship match and shared the Pac-10 title with Stanford.
The Cardinal hit a season-low .103 against California, which is coached by Palo Alto grad Rich Feller, the reigning National Coach of the Year.
Stanford sophomore outside hitter Rachel Williams has emerged from the wings to establish herself as an All-American candidate. She leads the team with 136 kills (5.04 per set) and is hitting .250 overall. She's also one of the top defensive players on the court, averaging 2.85 digs per game.
The Cardinal has relied heavily on its defense to date. Eight Cardinal players have achieved double figures in digs, and six of them have at least 49 through seven matches.
Despite the low hitting percentage against the Bears, Stanford still maintains a .218 to .150 edge in that department over their opponents overall.
Junior setter Karissa Cook is also showing her skills after sharing the position the previous two years. She averages 10.81 assists per set, has four service aces and a team-high 94 digs.
Stanford hosts Colorado on Saturday night, also at 7 p.m.
Stanford (1-4) hosts USF (1-4) in a nonconference match on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
The Cardinal split two matches at home, as part of the Cal Legacy Classic, last weekend, beating nationally-ranked Kentucky, 3-1, and dropping a 1-0 decision to Lehigh.
Stanford has won the last three matches against the Dons, all by a 1-0 margin. USF continues to lead the all-time series, 15-14-5.
The Cardinal has been outscored 8-3 this season, with Dersu Abolfathi, JJ Koval and Adam Jahn each scoring once. Drew Hutchins and Jason Dodson have shared goaltending duties.
No. 9 Stanford (5-1) opens the NorPac Conference season Saturday at Pacific in Stockton with a four-match winning streak intact.
Kelsey Harbin became the second Cardinal freshman to earn weekly honors from the NorPac, joining Alex McCawley, after she was named a Defensive Player of the Week for helping Stanford to a pair of home victories over the weekend.
Stanford beat No. 19 Indiana, 4-2, on Friday and No. 18 Northeastern, 3-2, on Sunday. The lone loss was at No. 4 Connecticut.
Stanford vaulted seven spots in this week's Kookaburra/NFHCA National Coaches poll. It's the highest national ranking for Stanford since Sept. 22, 1987, when the Cardinal checked in at No. 6 following a 4-1 start.
Stanford, ranked 12th in the Golf World/Nike Golf preseason coaches' poll, opens its fall schedule on Friday at the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational against an impressive field that includes 10 Top-25 teams.
"We're really looking forward to the event," Stanford coach Conrad Ray said. "It's a world-class course and the greens are fast and pretty difficult. It's a beautiful time of year in Chicago and the field is one of the strongest we'll see all year and we're excited to compete. We want to get off to a good start and we're ready to go."
Stanford held a four-round qualifying event last week and will send Andrew Yun, Steven Kearney, Cameron Wilson, and freshmen Patrick Grimes (from Menlo School) and Patrick Rodgers to the event.
Stanford begins its fall schedule on Monday at the Washington State Cougar Cup with visions of competing for the Pac-12 championship.
The Cardinal, which recorded eight top-10 finishes last season, The Cardinal returns four of its top five stroke-average leaders including All-Pac-10 second-team selection Kristina Wong and All-Pac-10 honorable mention Sally Watson.
"They provide amazing stability, strong leadership and power at the top," Stanford coach Caroline O'Connor said. "To have them as the core knowing that they still have two years left, we're in a good place."
Wong posted five consecutive top-10 finishes highlighted by a second-place tie at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational.
Watson recorded five top-20 finishes, including four during a five-event run near the end of the season.
Head coach John Rittman has signed a new five-year contract, which took effect on Sept. 1, 2011, the University announced Thursday.
Rittman, who enters his 16th season at Stanford in 2011-12, will be under contract with Stanford through the 2016 softball season.
Under Rittman, Stanford holds a 641-294-3 (.685) record in 15 seasons. Additionally, the Cardinal has recorded 14 consecutive winning seasons, made 14 straight NCAA appearances, notched 12 40-win seasons and produced at least one All-American in each of the last 14 years.
Ken Shibuya, an assistant with Stanford since 2006, has been named associate head coach of the program.
Shibuya has been a key figure in the Cardinal's rise to prominence and its 2010 NCAA championship.
"The dedication to the program and knowledge he brings is very much deserving of being associate head coach," Stanford head coach John Kosty said. "The title is very deserving."
This summer, Shibuya was the head coach of the U.S. youth national team that finished third at the Pan American Cup (under 19) in Mexicali, Mexico, on July 16.