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October 05, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Unranked, but not unproven Unranked, but not unproven (October 05, 2005)

Cardinal women's soccer team enters Pac-10 having tested the best

by Rick Eymer

Stanford women's soccer coach Paul Ratcliffe knows the national rankings can be a little misleading. Take the unranked (by Cardinal for example.

"We've had one of the toughest schedules in the country," Ratcliffe said as Stanford prepares to open Pac-10 play this weekend with a pair of home matches. "If you look at our win-loss record, we do look average. But we've just had tough games. Playing such a strong schedule is starting to pay off. In the short term is was humbling but in the long term it's great for the team."

Wins over No. 5 ranked Santa Clara, 1-0, in a physical contest on Friday night, and over Colorado College, a perennial powerhouse, 2-0, on Sunday is a testament to that.

After dropping games to top-ranked North Carolina, No. 3 Portland, and No. 13 Texas A&M, Stanford (6-3-1) can claim a win over one of the top programs in the country and coming on the eve of Pac-10 play is fortuitous.

"We played with a lot of confidence," Ratcliffe said. "We're relatively young and we've been playing better and better. We're going into the Pac-10 on a high note."

Santa Clara is the second top 25 team Stanford has beaten this season. The Cardinal edged No. 20 Tennessee on the Lady Vols home field earlier in the season.

It doesn't get any easier in conference play. Stanford opens with Washington State on Friday at 7 p.m. and hosts Washington, which reached the Elite Eight last year, on Sunday at 1 p.m. in a game televised by Fox Sports.

On the horizon are dates with No. 4 UCLA, No. 15 California and No. 24 Arizona. The Wildcats are the defending Pac-10 champions.

"You never know about the Pac-10," Ratcliffe said. "Every team is strong and it's a matter of who gets hot and who gets healthy."

Sophomore Rachel Buehler scored goals in both wins last weekend, her first two goals of the season. Buehler, who was a redshirt last season so she could play with the United States Under-19 team in the world championships, was one of the top recruits in the nation in 2002 but an ACL injury caused her to miss half her freshman season, and a broken nose (she continued to play for the national team despite the setback) forced her to miss significant practice time in the fall.

Her toughness is in the genes. Her father, Donald Buehler, played water polo and wrestled at Stanford.

"She's a great story," Ratcliffe said. "She's one of the top players in the country and she's just now getting up to speed. She's only going to get better."

Buehler was shifted to center midfielder from center defense this season to take advantage of her quickness and ability to score.

"That's one of the most important positions," Ratcliffe said. "She has the capability to come forward and she's doing so at the right time."

The Cardinal (6-3-1) beat Santa Clara for the first time since 2002 and just the eighth in 28 meetings. They lost to the Broncos in double overtime in the second round of last year's NCAA tournament.

"I think the Santa Clara-Stanford rivalry is huge and this is definitely a significant win for us," Ratcliffe said. "Our team showed great character, this was a hard-fought win."

Buehler scored after a Stanford free kick put the ball into the box. In a scramble, Allison Falk got the ball to Buehler, who found the back of the net from eight yards out.

Santa Clara, the 2001 national champions and perennial powerhouse, lost the chance to tie when a goal was nullified as a result of the Broncos being called for offside with 1:10 left in the first half.

Freshman keeper Alex Gamble, who recorded two saves against Santa Clara and one against Colorado College, has four shutouts. The Broncos maintained pressure on Stanford but were repeatedly repelled.

"This was really exciting," Gamble said. "In high school, you hear a lot about Santa Clara, to be able to get a win over them and to be a part of it is amazing."

Buehler scored in the eight minute against Colorado College, getting an assist from Hayley Hunt. Lizzy George also scored, with an assist from April Wall.

Men's water polo

Stanford split two games over the weekend, beating visiting Pacific, 14-4, on Thursday and losing to third-ranked California, 9-6, on Saturday.

The Cardinal (7-2) visits Pacific on Saturday in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match.

Stanford had nine players score against the 10th-ranked Tigers led by Peter Varellas with three goals. Michael Bury, William Hindle-Katel and Thomas Hopkins each added two goals.

Cal scored the first two goals of the contest and never trailed. The Bears scored three unanswered goals in the second period to take a 6-2 edge.

Stanford backup goalie Jimmie Sandman was able to say hello to former Menlo School teammates Adam Haley and Kevin Platshon, who both play for Cal.

Palo Alto High grad Sean Nolan is in his first year as an assistant coach for the Bears. Nolan was also an assistant at Menlo the past few years.

Cross country

Arianna Lambie and Teresa McWalters finished first and second to help lead the nationally-ranked Stanford women's team to victory at the 14th annual Murray Keatinge Invitational in Orone, Maine on Saturday.

Lambie raced the 5,000-meter course in 16:38.30, while McWalters finished with in 16:51.90. Two other Cardinal runners finished in the top 10: Katy Trotter in fourth at 17:01.50 and Amanda Trotter in seventh in 17:01.50.

The nationally-ranked Cardinal men's team also won the team title as seven runners placed in the top 10. David Vidal finished second in the 4.96-mile race, completing the distance in 24:00.00.

Women's volleyball

Stanford maintained its dominance over the Oregon schools over the weekend to remain undefeated in Pac-10 play entering a big weekend of conference action.

The Cardinal (4-0, 15-1) host No. 2 Washington on Saturday at 7 p.m. after playing Washington State on Friday, also at 7 p.m.

Stanford beat host Oregon State, 30-19, 30-15, 30-28 on Thursday to extend its record to 41-0 against the Beavers.

The Cardinal came back on Friday to beat host Oregon, 30-28, 30-15, 30-23. Stanford held Oregon State to a team hitting percentage of .047 while hitting the ball at a .322 clip.

Freshman outside hitter Cynthia Barboza, who led the Pac-10 in kills per game entering the weekend, and freshman middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo each collected a team-high 14 kills. Akinradewo hit .650 while Barboza hit .407.

Stanford's current 14-match winning streak is the third-longest under coach John Dunning.

Against Oregon, junior outside hitter Kristin Richards recorded 19 kills and hit .529, while Akinradewo added 16 kills while hitting at a .444 clip. She also had seven blocks. Senior libero Courtney Schultz collected a match-high 16 digs.

Men's soccer

Stanford opened the Pac-10 season with a 1-1 tie against San Diego State on Friday night, and a 2-0 loss to host UCLA on Sunday.

The Bruins and Aztecs are the top two teams in the conference following weekend play. San Diego State (1-0-1, 7-0-2) is undefeated while UCLA (2-0, 6-2) is right behind. Only Stanford (0-1-1, 3-5-2) has an overall losing record among the six Pac-10 teams.

No other team, in fact, has more than two losses. The Pac-10 is a combined 34-13-11.

Stanford overcame a 1-0 deficit, getting a second-half goal from Marcus Ryan on an assist from Dan Shapiro.

Against the Bruins, only Ryan and Tunji Munabi were able to get off shots, and none on goal.

Field hockey

Stanford was edged by Pacific, 4-3, in a shootout on Saturday in a NorPac Conference match.

Sophomore Jessica Zutz scored twice in the first 34 minutes and senior Missy Halliday added a goal in the 47th minute to give the Cardinal a 3-0 lead.

Pacific tied the game in the 55th minute.

"Today we had a great first half," Stanford coach Lesley Irvine said. "We created a lot of offensive opportunities, which is something we've been working on. At this point we're just trying to put 70 minutes together because there were a few glaring errors that Pacific capitalized on. I'm very proud of the way the team played in overtime, when I think we dominated. We were very unlucky in the shootout. It was a phenomenal game of field hockey."

Stanford (1-2, 3-9) travels to Davidson for a 3:30 p.m. match with Davidson on Friday, and then plays North Carolina on Sunday.

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