Stanford lost to North Carolina in the 2009 final and 2012 semifinals, and beat Duke in the 2011 final. Stanford is attempting to beat North Carolina for the first time, in a match shown live on ESPN3.com. Also, the Sunday match will be the first Stanford-Duke clash since that 2011 match in Kennesaw, Ga.
Five seniors are among the nine returning starters, with defender Kendall Romine and forward Chioma Ubogagu back from the starting lineup on the 2011 NCAA championship team.
Midfielders Alex Doll and Lo'eau LaBonta are two others who shared in the championship feeling. Senior forward Taylor Uhl, who led the Pac-12 in scoring last year, transferred into the school last year.
Stanford got a lift by the return of sophomores Stephanie Amack and Jane Campbell and freshman Andi Sullivan, who were in Canada last weekend, playing with the U.S. Under-20 women's national team. All three have been able to get a full week of practice in with the team. Amack and Campbell were starters last year.
Sophomore defender Maddie Bauer and junior defender Laura Liedle are also returning starters.
The Tar Heels are 9-0-3 against Stanford. The Cardinal never led at any point in the all-time series until Christen Press, now playing with the U.S. senior national team, scored in the 32nd minute of a draw in the 2010 regular season.
North Carolina, which has won 22 national titles, also got three players back from the FIFA Under-20 Women's Cup in Canada, including American Summer Green and players from Mexico and New Zealand.
Stanford senior Hannah Farr also plays lacrosse and was named IWLCA second-team All-America in that sport in 2014. Farr also was named Player of the Year in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and to the IWLCA All-West Region first team. Farr scored 31 goals and had 13 assists last year for a Cardinal lacrosse team that advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Uhl is the second-leading active scorer in NCAA Division I, with 48 goals. She trails only Illinois State's Rachel Tejada, who has 54 career goals. Uhl arrived last season as a junior transfer from Minnesota, where she led the nation in goals (21) and points (51) in 2012 and earned NSCAA third-team All-America honors. Uhl scored 12 goals last year.
Four of the returning players were recognized by the Pac-12 last season. LaBonta and Bauer were named to the second team, and Ubogagu was honorable mention. Also, Bauer and Stephanie Amack were named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.
Stanford beat Cal State Bakersfield, 1-0, in an exhibition match on Tuesday and hosts St. Mary's in an exhibition match at 7 p.m. Saturday.
After a season-opening road trip that includes stops at Creighton (Aug. 29) and Nebraska-Omaha (Aug. 31), the Cardinal returns to The Farm for the first of five straight games and its home opener against San Jose State on Sept. 6. Stanford has been picked to finish third in this year's Pac-12 preseason coaches poll.
Sophomore Jordan Morris was among 18 players named to the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team roster for its five-day camp from Aug. 3-7 in Nassau, Bahamas.
At Menlo College, the Oaks open their season on the road, playing against Corban on Saturday and Oregon Tech on Monday in Redding.
Seniors Sean Kane and Sebastian Bosch, junior Nicholas Krahnke, and sophomore Ryan Onizuka will be counted upon to help Menlo.
Menlo College, reigning Cal Pac Conference champions, opens its season Friday night with a nonconference match against West Coast Baptist College at 7 p.m.
The Lady Oaks finished 19-7 overall, reaching the opening round of the NAIA National Championships.
Senior outside hitter Courtney Calicdan returns as a two-time First Team All-Cal Pac selection and 2012 Cal Pac Player of the Year.
Sophomore setter Kelly Sung is also back after earning Cal Pac Newcomer of the Year honors. Sophomore Courtney Wong also had a impressive freshman season.
"With Kelly and Courtney being so new last year and doing so well and earning conference honors, I think coming back this year prepared and having a little bit more leadership and ownership of the team, I can expect the same if not more out of them," said Menlo coach Atlee Hubbard.
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