Dec. 2, 2010

By Greg Johnson

CARY, North Carolina - For 34 straight academic years, the Stanford Cardinal has produced at least one national champion team.


Those trophies added to the ones captured before this impressive streak began now stand at a total of 99. The Stanford womens soccer team is hoping to win the universitys 100th team NCAA title as it carries a 22-0-2 record into its Womens College Cup national semifinal against Boston College at WakeMed Soccer Park Friday night.


Stanford has won national team championships in 17 different sports. The Cardinal women are hoping to add the womens soccer program to that list.


It is a subject that has been discussed amongst the Stanford players.


Our focus was going to be on winning the national championship whether it would be first or the 100th for the school,” said Stanford senior midfielder Allison McCann. But it will be something extra special to leave that mark for Stanford. It has come up, but we are also looking at it as winning a national championship this year.”


While the two programs are separated by around 3,000 miles, the Cardinal and Boston College are familiar with each other. This will be the fourth time the teams have met in the last three seasons.


Stanford is 2-0-1 in the matchups, including a 3-1 win over the Eagles in the quarterfinals of last years NCAA tournament.


In 2010, the teams opened the regular season by playing to 1-1 tie at Boston College. It is the only time Stanfords prolific offense has been held below two goals this year.


In the (2009 NCAA tournament) game, Stanford was seeded quite high and we understood why they were No. 1 after that game,” said Boston College coach Alison Foley, whose team brings 17-6-1 record into the match. Coming back from there, we just mentioned that we wanted to see their team again. Here goes game No. 2. Its exciting for us.”
Stanford is also looking forward to the match, and it knows both teams have grown since the opening contest this season on August 20.


The first game of the season is always difficult for coaches and players,” said Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe. Youre trying to get your legs, youre away from home and youre trying to get the team going. Weve developed, and I think Boston College has developed a lot since then, so it should be an exciting test.”


Ratcliffe challenged his squad with a four-game road trip to start the season. After facing Boston College, Stanford played Boston University, North Carolina and Duke.


The Cardinal went 2-0-2 on the swing and have a 21-match win streak.


That trip hardened our team,” said Ratcliffe, who has led Stanford to its third consecutive College Cup appearance. It prepared us for the long run.”


Boston College had its share of trials and tribulations as well.


The Eagles started the season 9-0-1, which included a 3-2 win over two-time defending champion North Carolina. After beating the Tar Heels, Boston College received some votes as the No. 1 team in the country. However, the next eight matches produced only a 3-5 record.


We realized that when we were on top, that everybody who came to play us, we were their biggest game of the year,” said Boston College coach Alison Foley. We took some losses, but we learned a lot of good lessons. Those losses after the North Carolina win certainly made us a better team for the postseason.”


The Eagles marched through the first three rounds of the tournament but faced a stiff test in the quarterfinals where they beat Washington 1-0 in overtime. Senior defender Hannah Cerrone scored the winning goal on a corner kick that was apparently aided by a gust of wind.


The ensuing celebration made the Boston College seniors was filled with the realization how far the program has come to make its first College Cup appearance.


For the seniors, weve progressed each year,” Cerrone said. To make it here is a huge thing for us, and were not ready to be done yet.”


Senior forward Amy Caldwell added: When we were being recruited, Coach Foley always told us how good it would feel to bring the program up. We finally made it to the top as seniors, and hopefully well continue to win.”