Dunning's gang is off to a 10-2 start
Hath been a while since the Bootleg has checked in on the non-football fall sports (well, if you don’t count the John Dunning Q&A), so let’s see what the dealio is on volleyball, soccer and field hockey as conference play gets underway. Again, until I get to see water polo or cross country on TV or in person, there won’t be any updates of those sports.
Women’s Volleyball: 10-2 (2-0 Pac-12), No. 7 in AVCA Coaches Top
The 411: For the first time in five tries, the Dunning Gang
got one over on that team from the East Bay. They did it in
impressive fashion as well, sweeping the Golden Bears without too
much of a sweat with the exception of the third set (the games went
25-17, 25-17, 28-26). You can almost always tell the story of the
match by looking at hitting percentages, and this one was no
exception- Stanford hit a whopping .385 while holding Cal to a
pedestrian .185. The Cardinal blocking up front had a lot to do with
that, roofing 11 Cal swings, led by the six block assists of Carly Wopat. Jordan Burgess had a double-double with 16 kills and 13 digs,
while Madi Bugg had 50 assists. To put that assist total in
perspective, that’s 16.67 assists per set. The national leader in
assists per set, Lauren Plum of Oregon, averages 13.09 per set. In
other words, 50 assists over three sets is pretty damn good.
The Cardinal then headed on over to the Huntsman Center and took
care of the Utes in four sets, but not before a huge fight put up by
the home squad. Though the Card won the match, Utah actually scored
more points throughout the four sets (95 for Utah, 94 for Stanford).
The Utes are 0-2 in conference and probably won’t be headed to the
NCAA Tournament, but they are fourth in the nation in blocking, and
it really showed in the first set.
Keep an eye on: Freshman outside hitter Jordan Burgess, who
was just named Pac-12 Freshman and Defensive Player of the Week.
Yes, DEFENSIVE player of the week… as an attacker. Coach Dunning
said in the Q&A about how good of a reactive athlete she is, and
that’s the probably the No. 1 trait you need to be an excellent
digger, especially if you are taller than six feet like
Burgess. She averaged more than four kills and four digs per
set in the victories over Cal and Utah, and is second in both
categories for the season.
On deck: The Arizona schools on the road. Both the Sun
Devils and Wildcats are 1-1 on the young conference season and
neither are ranked. Conventional wisdom says the Cardinal should
head back to Maples with a 4-0 Pac-12 record. While No. 2 Oregon
(yes, the Ducks are ranked second in volleyball, too) shouldn’t face
much of a test against the Mountain schools, No. 5 Washington hosts
the LA schools (both the Bruins and Trojans are ranked in the top
5), so Stanford has a good chance of being one of just two teams
undefeated in conference through two weekends.
Interesting fact: The Pac-12 has five schools ranked in the top 7
(Oregon 2, USC 3, UCLA 4, Washington 5, Stanford 7) and no other
schools in the top 25. The Big Ten leads all conferences with seven
schools in the top 25.
Women’s Soccer: 7-1-1 (1-0-0 Pac-12), No. 2 in NSCAA Coaches Top
The 411: At long last, the Stanford Cardinal women’s soccer
team finally lost a regular season game one month ago in a 1-0 loss
to West Virginia despite outshooting the Mountaineers 17-7. The loss
snapped a 25-match winning streak for Ratcliffe’s Crew and was the
first regular season loss since Halloween of 2008 (a span of 64
matches without a loss in the regular season). Assistant coach Jay
Cooney told me it was almost a relief to lose since the team no
longer had the pressure of the streak on them (I interviewed him
last Friday, but lost my voice recorder. Still pissed about that).
The team has looked pretty solid since, not allowing a goal in the
month of September and scoring 15 of their own over five matches.
That’s a scoreless streak of 503 minutes and 19 seconds The Card
knocked off Arizona State 3-0 in their Pac-12 opener thanks to a
dominant second half performance (Stanford scored all three in the
second half) in true Stanford women’s soccer fashion.
Keep an eye on: Senior centerback Alina Garciamendez. The
calming presence in the back has seen an uptick in offense this
year, scoring three goals already in 2012 after scoring twice in her
previous three years combined. Like Mariah Nogueira, she is a very
good aerial player. More important than that, however, is the way
she controls the back line, not allowing much of anything past her
along with other defenders Kendall Romine, Madeleine Thompson,
Rachel Quon and the like.
On deck: The Oregon schools, starting with Oregon State
tonight at 6pm. Keep yourself busy during halftime by switching over
to the Pac-12 Networks for this one. The Beavers are always a team
that finishes near the top of the conference, so this should be a
very good showdown. Oregon State is 9-1-0 and 1-0-0 in conference
play (the Beavers beat Utah 2-0 in their Pac-12 opener), while also
being ranked 23rd in the nation. Oregon isn’t nearly as good as its
in-state rival, but the Ducks are still a top-60 RPI team, having
beat top-50 RPI UC Irvine.
Interesting Fact: Stanford held an opponent without a shot or corner
kick for the first time in school history when it beat UNC
Greensboro 4-0 down in Santa Clara. Essentially, that’s a perfect
Men’s Soccer: 3-4-0 (0-0-0 Pac-12)
The 411: The Cardinal men’s soccer squad has played in three
consecutive 2-1 games, two of them going to overtime, one of them a
Cardinal victory. The common theme in those three games? Stanford
grossly out-shot the opponent to the tune of 73-27; this is not Bret
Simon’s team anymore, and that much is evident, as the 2012-13 side
is a lot more aggressive. However, the Cardinal have come up on the
short end of the stick more often than not thanks to a couple of
unlucky bounces and an inability to finish the multitude of chances
they get each game.
Keep an eye on: Freshman midfielder Aaron Kovar, who has four goals
in six games if you count the preseason. He is a very creative
midfielder who shows off good footwork and a lot of flair. He has
not played in three of the team’s seven regular season matches, but
look for him to become more of a regular as the season progresses.
On deck: Pac-12 play begins with No. 9 UCLA (5-1-2), which
absolutely murdered Stanford the last time these two teams played.
It happened to be Stanford’s Senior Day last year, and UCLA won 3-0
in a match that left the Cardinal frustrated. However, this year’s
team has a bit more spunk to it, and I expect Friday’s contest to be
considerably closer. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that
Stanford has a shot in this one. Although the Cardinal have lost
their last two matches to Santa Clara and LMU, neither side all that
good, they have shown that they can create the chances necessary to
get a result. It’s all about finishing.
After UCLA, the Cardinal host San Diego State on Sunday afternoon
for a 2:30pm start. No game is easy in the Pac.
Interesting fact: The Cardinal have already played in three overtime
matches, all of them being 2-1 games, with Stanford 1-2-0 in those
contests. The last time Stanford played in more overtime games in a
season was in 2009, when Stanford had five go beyond 90 minutes.
That was also the last year Stanford reached the NCAA tournament,
advancing to the round of 16 with victories over Saint Mary’s and UC
Irvine before falling at powerhouse Akron.
Field Hockey: 6-4 (0-0 NorPac); No. 13 in NFHCA Coaches Top
The 411: After a 1-3 start to the season that included
one-goal losses to then-No. 1 Maryland and now-No.10 Northwestern,
Tara’s Team got back on track with a five-game winning streak before
losing to then-No. 1 North Carolina 6-2. Included in that five-game
streak were wins against ranked opponents Iowa and Drexel, both of
which are currently in the top 20.
Keep an eye on: Sophomore Kelsey Harbin and freshman Maddie Secco,
both of whom are returning from the Junior Pan American
Championships held in Guadalajara (Harbin played for America, while
Secco played for America Jr.- just kidding, Canada. No disrespect,
maple leafs!). Coach Tara Danielson certainly could have used the
two of them in the North Carolina game, as both provide a nice punch
on the attack. Through seven games, Harbin and Secco have combined
for four goals and two assists (two goals and an assist for each).
In fact, the players’ stats mirror each other. In addition to the
goals and assists, both Harbin and Secco have attempted 17 shots, 12
of which have been on target. The only differences are that Harbin’s
two goals are game-winners and she also has a defensive save to her
On deck: The NorPac opener against Cal in Berkeley. The
Golden Bears have struggled out of the gate with a 3-4 start. All
four of their losses have been by one goal, three of them to ranked
opponents (Maryland, Northwestern and Drexel) and two of them in
overtime (Drexel and Indiana). Stanford won both regular season
contests against Cal last year before falling in the NorPac
Tournament Championship game to the Golden Bears 1-0.
Interesting Fact: The NorPac added a ninth team to the conference
this season by gobbling up Liberty. Stanford’s connection to
Liberty? Sarah Boruta, who was the video coordinator for Tara VanDerveer for a few years before accepting a job with the Flames’
women’s basketball program as the Director of Operations, or D-Ops
in college basketball lingo.
Another conference member, Longwood, which had been a D-I
independent for five years, found a home for its other sports in the
Big South. Their AD Troy Austin retweeted me once(*cough* @kevo408
*cough*) and it made my weekend.
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