[STANFORD: SA Preseason #4] Despite the loss of the likes of Alina Garciamendez and Rachel Quon from a senior class that lost just four losses in 102 games, Stanford has the attacking talent to return to the Women's College Cup for a sixth year in a row. Much of its early success will depend on how quickly the backline is rebuilt.
A 1-0 overtime loss to North Carolina in last year's Women's College Cup semifinals was the Cardinal's only loss of the season, ending a 19-game winning streak that followed a 1-1 tie with Boston College.
Stanford heads to New England to open the 2013 season Friday against BC with plenty of weapons up front.
Courtney Verloo (10 goals, 11 assists) andChioma Ubogagu (5 goals, 11 assists) were 1-2 in scoring for the Cardinal last season. They are joined by Taylor Uhl, a transfer from Minnesota, where she shared the national scoring title for goals with Ohio State's Tiffany Cameron (21) and led the nation in points (51).
Goalie Emily Oliver, who joins Uhl on the Soccer America Preseason All-American Team, will need to be up to the task as the Cardinal must replace three starters on the backline, including Garciamendez and Quon.
The good news is that Kendall Romine, a starter in central defense on the Cardinal’s 2011 NCAA championship team, returns after red-shirting in 2012.
Another defender, Laura Liedle, spent time with incoming freshman Ryan Walker-Hartshorn at the recent U.S. U-20 camp in Carson, Calif.
The top recruit is Jane Campbell, one of the top goalies to come along in recent years, but she may have to wait a year to take over for Oliver, a senior.
Other freshman standouts include a pair of defenders, Stephanie Amack and Maddie Bauer. Walker-Hartshorn can play as a defender or forward so Coach Paul Ratcliffe has lots of options to work with as he rebuilds the backline.
He'll have five weeks before the Cardinal opens Pac-12 play at Colorado and put its 42-game conference winning streak on the line -- the third longest conference winning streak in women's history.