Stanford men's soccer coach Jeremy Gunn and his group of hard-working players won't be letting Soccer America's latest poll go to their collective heads. There's still too much at stake.
Soccer America had Stanford ranked first in the nation following UCLA's loss against California. The Cardinal and Bruins tied, 2-2, two days earlier in Westwood. Freshman Corey Baird scored twice in the match and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week.
For Stanford's purposes, Soccer America's rankings are secondary to the NSCAA, a coaches' poll. Stanford (10-2-3 overall, 3-1-3 Pac-12) ranks 10th there.
Perhaps most importantly, the Cardinal ranks sixth in the NCAA RPI, which figures to guide the selection committee when it comes to the postseason.
Being among the top 10 is rare in itself for the Cardinal, which last appeared in the upper echelon in December of 2002.
What Cal's win did was open a door for Stanford to compete for the Pac-12 title. The Cardinal needs to take care of business this weekend with its final two home matches of the regular season, beginning with Friday's 5 p.m. match, to be televised by the Pac-12 Networks, with Washington (11-3-1, 4-2-1), currently ranked third by the NSCAA and fifth by Soccer America.
The Cardinal has not beaten the Huskies in six years. The last Stanford victory in the series was on Nov. 7, 2008, perhaps a portent for good things Friday.
Stanford, unbeaten in six matches since losing at Washington in early October, can win the conference title by successfully navigating its last three matches.
That's also the scenario for both the Huskies and Golden Bears. UCLA, with one match remaining, benefits if the three teams beat each other.
Oregon State (9-6-1, 2-4-1) comes to town for a 3 p.m. match Sunday, when the Cardinal honors its five seniors -- Zach Batteer, Matt Taylor, Bobby Edwards, Jimmy Callinan and Meyer -- before the contest.
Stanford completes the regular season with a conference match at California a week from Sunday.
The Cardinal ranks eighth in the nation in assists per game (2.07) and 16th in total assists (31). Jordan Morris and Eric Verso lead the way, each averaging 0.42 per game, among the top 32 in the country.
Morris, who has missed three games because of a commitment to the U.S. National Team program, has 12 assists in 33 career games, almost double any other current Cardinal.
Stanford is 7-0-4 in its last 11 games at home dating to last season, and 16-7-5 at home under Gunn.
Batteer has a point in five of his past six matches after recording one point in his first eight games of the season. He's the Cardinal's active career leader in both goals scored (19) and points (45).
Top-ranked and undefeated Stanford hosts Arizona on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in another Pac-12 Conference test.
The Cardinal (23-0 overall, 13-0 Pac-12) took care of business Wednesday night with a victory over Arizona State and is four matches short of matching the program's best start (27-0 in 1991).
The Wildcats (18-6, 7-5) won 14 of their first 15 matches, including their first three conference matches. They own road victories over Kansas State, UCLA and Utah.
Arizona, which has not beaten Stanford in seven years, is hitting .244 as a team and lead the conference in digs (16.52).
Stanford and Washington appear to be headed for a showdown in Seattle on Nov. 26, the only meeting of the season for the two powerhouses.
The Huskies are also undefeated this year and ranked second behind the Cardinal. Palo Alto High grad Melanie Wade plays for Washington.
Even before that match, though, Stanford goes on the road to play at USC and UCLA in a rare Wednesday-Thursday schedule next week. Stanford is in the midst of playing five matches within 11 days.
Junior setter Madi Bugg, sixth on Stanford's all-time assists list, leads the nation with 12.07 assists per set while redshirt freshman middle blocker Merete Lutz leads the country with a .468 hitting percentage. Junior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku is No. 3 nationally with a .462 attack percentage.
Swimming and diving
Both the men's and women's programs host Wisconsin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and both teams have a lot of newcomers ready to make waves this year.
The men enter the meet ranked 10th by collegeswimming.com, while the Badgers are 16th. The women are ninth, while Wisconsin is No. 23.
Palo Alto grad Andrew Liang heads the list of rookie for the men's side. He is joined by fellow CCS champion Curtis Ogren, Patrick Conaton, who participated in the Youth Olympics over the summer in China, Liam Egan, Sam Perry, Wesley Olmstead, Brock Turner and diver Ted Miclau.
The women loaded up on talented, highly decorated freshmen with the likes of Sacred Heart Prep grad Ally Howe, Simone Manuel, who can boast of wins over Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin, Janet Hu, Lindsey Engel, Gracia Leydon-Maloney, Alexandra Meyers, Heidi Poppe and diver Sammy Gallagher.
No. 4 Stanford looks to extend its 11-game winning-steak and claim the conference tournament title this weekend at the NorPac Championship, hosted by Pacific.
The Cardinal (17-1, 4-0 NorPac West) will be pursuing a single-season best at the tournament after matching the program-high of 17 over the weekend with a 2-1 victory against UC Davis.
Stanford's defense has been dominant, limiting opponents to one or fewer goals in 17 of 18 games. Dulcie Davies has been terrific in goal and is ranked first in the NCAA with a 0.67 GAA and .836 save percentage.
Stanford's offense has produced three or more goals in 11 of 18 games. Alex McCawley leads the team offensively with 32 points and 14 goals, while Maddie Secco boasts a team-high eight assists. The Cardinal attack has been balanced with 11 players registering at least one goal.
Jessica Chisholm scored the game-winning goal against the Tigers, with a hard shot off a penalty corner in the 48th minute. Fran Tew scored the first goal of the game. It was Tew's fifth score on the year, matching her career high from a year ago.
The Cardinal improved to 26-2 in NorPac regular-season play under head coach Tara Danielson.
Stanford plays the winner of Thursday's match between UC Davis and Pacific. The championship game will take place Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Men's water polo
Nationally No. 2 Stanford (19-3, 5-1 MPSF) heads to Berkeley for the Big Splash against No. 5 California (20-4, 4-2 MPSF) on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., in a match televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
Stanford is off to its best start since starting 20-2 in 2009. A win Saturday would give the Cardinal 20 wins for the 29th time in its history, the eighth time under head coach John Vargas and for the second season in a row.
Stanford's 11-10 come-from-behind victory in last season's event ended a two-match Big Splash winning streak for Cal and nudged the Cardinal ahead 8-7 in the series since the Steve Heaston Trophy was established for the winner. Saturday will mark the third meeting of the season between Stanford and California, with the Bears holding a 2-1 edge.
Stanford junior Bret Bonanni was named MPSF/Kap7 Player of the Week for the Cardinal's victory over Long Beach State. The first of his five goals was the 236th goal of his career, moving him past James Bergeson (1979-82) and alone into second place on Stanford's career goals list.