Nevada soccer to face Stanford in NCAAs
Appeal Sports Writer
Nevada will make a little history when it walks onto the field to face No. 23 Stanford in the first round of the NCAA Division I women’s soccer tournament tonight at 7 at Buck Shaw Stadium at the University of Santa Clara.
The Wolf Pack, who outlasted Fresno State 4-2 on penalty kicks to win the Western Athletic Conference championship, will be making their first-ever NCAA appearance, and they drew a formidable opponent.
“They (Stanford) are the best team we’ve faced all year in terms of quickness and technical (ability),” Nevada coach Terri Patraw said. “They are very quick and very organized defensively. We are excited to get a chance to play Stanford. We have some familiarity with the Pac-10 Conference.
“Halfway through yesterday’s practice (Tuesday) we had to get on them to get them to refocus. There is still a little giddiness and we had to get it out of their systems. They are still getting their legs back. They have worked hard this week.”
Patraw has been calling teams on Stanford’s nonconference schedule to get a scouting report. She said that the Pac-10 has a rule prohibiting coaches fom giving out information on teams in their own conference.
“We’ve watched some games from their internet site,” Patraw said.
The Pack already own wins over Pac-10 foes Oregon and Washington State. Oregon was the second-place team in the Pac-10, yet didn’t get an at-large bid from the NCAA. Oregon’s exclusion was a big surprise to Patraw.
Stanford has relied heavily on the play of its “Fab Five” – Kelley O’Hara, Kristin Stannard, Ali Riley, Alicia Jenkins and Katie Riley – for the majority of its scoring. The five freshmen have started more than half of Stanford’s contests.
“They are very young and very talented,” Patraw said. “They had a good year.”
O’Hara has scored 16 points on seven goals and two assists. Stannard is third with 10 points on four goals and two assists. Ali Riley has three goals and an assist. Jenkins has started all 20 games and played every field position. Katie Riley keys Stanford’s defense which allowed 12 goals the entire season.
Patraw also is impressed with Shari Summers, who scored seven goals this season, five of which were game-winners.
Stanford’s defense will have to contend with Nevada’s Sammy Miller (7 goals, 4 assists) Karen Zmirak (11 goals, 4 assists), Miranda Montejo (13 points) and Kenishia Warren (11 points).
Nevada’s defense, led by Jessica Wilcox, Randee Robinson, Patrice Godwin, Terran Hadlock and keeper Caitlin Holmes have been superb the last couple of weeks.
“It’s going to be tough,” Holmes said. “We have two huge wins over Pac-10 teams. If we play like we have been, we should be fine, although we won’t underestimate them at all. If we come out and get out of the jitters, we should be fine.”
“We’ve played so well the last few games,” said Aivi Luik. “Our offense is clicking as well as the midfield and defense. We just feel unstoppable right now. We’ll be ready for this game.”
NEVADA (13-4-4) vs. STANFORD (13-6-1)
What: NCAA Soccer Championships
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Where: Buck Shaw Stadium at Santa Clara University
Admission: $8 adults and $6 for children