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PREVIEW: Upstart Stanford has pieces in place
December 4th, 2008 7AM
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[2008 WOMEN'S COLLEGE CUP] Stanford, which faces Notre Dame in Friday's semifinal at the Women's College Cup (TV: ESPN2, ESPNU, 4:30 PM ET), is the outsider at this year's final four. North Carolina is playing in its 24th final four in 27 years, Notre Dame is making its 10th appearance and UCLA is returning for the sixth year in a row. Stanford, on the other hand, hasn't been in the semifinals since 1993 when Julie Foudy was still playing. It lost in its only appearance to George Mason in a shootout.

KEY STAT: Stanford set a new school single-season record for victories. Its 1-0 victory over Portland in the quarterfinals was its 22nd win of the season.

KEY PLAYER: Kelley O'Hara is only third on the Cardinal in goals but she has scored some important goals. Her late goal earned Stanford a 1-1 tie with North Carolina on Sept. 12 -- a result that was a major confidence-builder for a team with only two senior starters. Another late goal -- a spectacular side-volley -- saved the Cardinal against Rutgers in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, a game it won only 1-0 after outshooting the Scarlet Knights, 26-2.

AREA OF IMPROVEMENT: The arrival of the three freshman starters -- midfielders Camille Levin and Teresa Noyola and forward Lindsay Taylor -- were the last pieces of the puzzle Coach Paul Ratcliffe put in place. He says it's the first time he has had a team in place just as he wanted it.

PROJECTED STARTERS
Goalkeeper

PLAYER, YEAR (G-A-P) CLUB TEAM
1 Kira Maker, SOPH. (0.30 GAA) Bethesda Extreme
Defenders
3 Ali Riley, JR. (0-5-5) So Cal United
4 Alison Falk, SR. (2-1-5) Pleasanton Rage
5 Marisa Abegg, SR. (0-3-3) Lake Oswego SC
6 Alicia Jenkins, JR. (0-2-2) Pleasanton Rage
Midfielders
2 Camille Levin, FR. (6-4-16) Slammers FC
7 Teresa Noyola, FR. (6-10-22)  MVLA Mercury
22 Allison McCann, SOPH. (1-1-3) San Diego Surf
Forwards
17 Lindsay Taylor, FR. (16-3-35)  MVLA Mercury
19 Kelley O'Hara, JR. (13-12-38)  Peachtree City Lazers
23 Christine Press, SOPH. (16-11-43) Slammers FC
Key Subs
10 Kristin Stannard, JR. (5-2-12) FC Richmond Mystx
21 Hillary Heath, JR. (1-3-5) Crossfire



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