By David Kiefer
Stanford Media Relations
To no one's surprise, Stanford was awarded the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA women's soccer tournament and opens at home Friday against Montana at 7 p.m.
"It's business as usual," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "We're excited for the challenge and we want to prove that we're the best team in the country. It's great to be the No. 1 seed. And to play at home is the best part of being a No. 1."
On Sunday, the Grizzlies (6-11-4) won their first Big Sky Conference championship since 2000, beating Weber State, 4-3, in a penalty-kick shootout after going through regulation and overtime tied, 1-1.
The Cardinal (19-0-1), the Pac-12 champion, will be playing in its 14th consecutive NCAA tournament and will be seeking to advance to its fourth consecutive College Cup, third consecutive final, and win its first national championship.
Stanford is the nation's third-leading offense, scoring at a 3.05 clip per contest. Stephen F. Austin leads the country with its 3.412 average, and only Texas A&M has scored more goals than the Cardinal.
Castilleja grad Lindsay Taylor leads Stanford in scoring and is 20th in the nation, with a 1.89 points per game average. Taylor has 16 goals and four assists.
Palo Alto grad Teresa Noyola is tied for 15th with .53 assists per game and a total of 10. Cardinal goalie Emily Oliver is second in the nation with a .272 goals against average.
Stanford is the consensus No. 1 team in the country, but Ratcliffe disregards the pressure to live up to the ranking and status as a No. 1 seed.
"Once you get to the playoffs everyone has a target on them," Ratcliffe said. "Everyone feels the pressure in the playoffs. It's how you perform on the day, and how competitive you are on the day. "
Junior forward Erin Craig leads Montana with 10 goals and three assists. The Grizzlies have been outscored 39-27 on the year.
The second-round matchup will pit the Stanford-Montana winner against the winner of Texas (11-8-1) at South Carolina (15-6). The third-round opponent would come from among Santa Clara, California, Marist and Boston College. The Eagles are the only other seed in Stanford's eight-team pod.
To reach the College Cup, Stanford would need to get past No. 2 seed Oklahoma State, defending champion Notre Dame, or Maryland in the quarterfinals. Notre Dame beat Stanford in last year's final and Maryland tied the Cardinal, 0-0, on Aug. 26 for the only blemish in Stanford's unbeaten season.
The four No. 1 seeds are Stanford, Florida State, Wake Forest and Duke. If the seeds hold, Stanford would play Florida State in the College Cup semifinals and Duke in the final.
Tickets for the first round will be sold beginning Tuesday at 10 a.m. They can be purchased by phone at 1-800-STANFORD, online at gostanford.com, or in person at the ticket office at Gate 4 of Stanford Stadium.
First-round matches will be played at campus sites. Unlike past seasons, just one round will be played the first weekend, followed by two rounds at a single campus site the following weekend (Nov. 18 and 20).
As long as it remains in the tournament, there is a strong chance Stanford will host through the quarterfinals.
The 30th annual NCAA Women's College Cup will be played Dec. 2 and 4 at Kennesaw State University in Georgua.