[WOMEN'S COLLEGE CUP: Stanford]Defending champion Stanford returns to the Women's College Cup for the fifth straight year when it plays North Carolina in the second game of Friday's semifinals in San Diego (ESPN3, 11 pm ET). It is a rematch of the 2009 final in which Carolina beat the No. 1 Cardinal, 1-0, for only one of three losses this year's Stanford senior class has suffered in 101 games. A win over the Tar Heels would be the first for Stanford in 12 games.
Defender Alina Garciamendez has started every match since she arrived as a freshman in 2009 and played a school record 101 games going into the College Cup. The Texan, who played for Mexico at the 2011 Women's World Cup, scored two goals over her first three seasons but is tied for third on the team with six in 2012.
Like Garciamendez, Rachel Quon is a four-year starter and a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist. She is a great marking defender -- winning two battles with Pac-12 scoring leaderZakiya Bywaters of UCLA -- and overlaps frequently.
Courtney Verloo, who missed Stanford's 2011 national championship run with a knee injury, is the Cardinal's scoring leader with 31 points (10 goals, 11 assists).
Both Stanford goals in its 2-1 comeback win over UCLA in the quarterfinals were scored by Lo’eau LaBonta and followed corner kicks. Mariah Nogueira,Garciamendez and Verloo are also dangerous on set pieces.
Stanford's 19-match winning streak is the longest in the country. It dates back to Aug. 31 when the Cardinal tied Boston College, 1-1.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:
"I'd love to be part of the first team to beat North Carolina." -- Nogueira, one of five Stanford senior starters.
19 Emily Oliver JR Flossmoor, Ill.
4 Alina Garciamendez SR Fairview, Texas
7 Laura Liedle FR San Diego, Calif.
11 Rachel Quon SR Lake Forest, Ill.
25 Madeleine Thompson SR Corvallis Ore.
14 Nina Watkins SR San Francisco, Calif.
20 Mariah Nogueira SR Westminster, Calif.
24 Alex Doll SO Bethesda, Md.
5 Courtney Verloo JR Tualatin, Ore.
9 Chioma Ubogagu SO Coppell, Texas
21 Lo'eau LaBonta SO Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
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