Stanford's Path to Women's College Cup

Stanford's Path to Women's College Cup
by Victor Olorunfemi
November 29, 2023

Stanford has every reason to feel disrespected by some of what has transpired this fall. Exhibit one is that despite an undefeated record, the Cardinals have not been ranked No. 1 at any point this season, even falling out of the top five on several occasions. Exhibit two is that when the NCAA had the chance to rectify that disrespect, they doubled down on it by tabbing the Pac-12 giants as a second seed in the tournament.

It is not as if the Cardinals have not been dominant either or burned through a weak schedule. The team played eight nationally ranked opponents, achieved ten clean sheets in 19 matches, and has not conceded more than once in a game. But for whatever reason, Coach Ratcliffe’s squad has been as overlooked as any elite team, stoking the fire of an already great roster.

Of course, the only adequate response is to prove doubters wrong, and Stanford has done just that. The Cardinals opened the tournament without conceding a goal in the first three games before shutting out the nation’s top scorer in a 2-1 defeat of Nebraska. Perhaps what has helped is the refreshing naivete of a team reliant on five Freshmen who contribute in varying ways, from the ever-present Shae Harvey to super sub-Maryn Wolf.

The final step is winning the third College Cup in program history as the Cardinals look to become just the fourth team in the 21st century to claim an undefeated title.

Ten Key Moments:

08/17/2023 – Freshman Shae Harvey is in the starting lineup of game one against San Diego, a position she would hold on to through the reason as a vital cog in the Stanford midfield.

08/19/2023 – Harvey and another Freshman, Joelle Jung, score the goals as the Cardinals overturn a deficit and defeat UC Irvine 2-1. It is the first evidence of just how large of a role first-year players would go on to play.

09/10/2023Jasmine Aikey scored the 86th-minute equalizer against No. 14 Georgetown, a game after Andrea Kitahata scored 83rd minute winner versus VCU.

09/28/2023 – Cardinals leave it late once again with Aikey’s 82nd-minute winner versus Arizona State.

10/11/2023 – Harvey comes in at fifth in the TDS Midseason Freshman Rankings. Three Cardinals join: No. 13 Mia Bhuta, No. 56 Joelle Jung, and No. 60 Erica Grilione.

10/13/2023Elise Evans is ranked No. 2 on the TDS Midseason Player Rankings. Joining are No. 13 Maya Doms and No. 18 Jasmine Aikey.

11/03/2023 – Aikey hat trick against California in a 4-0 victory secures an undefeated regular season.

11/07/2023 –Aikey wins Pac-12 Midfielder of the Year, and Ryan Campbell is Goalkeeper of the Year. Maya Doms and Kennedy Wesly join the two on the All-Conference First Team. Elise Evans and Andrea Kitahata make the Second Team. Harvey and Bhuta double on the Third Team and All-Freshman team, while Grilione and Jung join the Freshman team.

11/19/2023 – In a 1-0 defeat of Mississippi State, the Cardinals make it six clean sheets from seven.

11/24/2023 – Doms scores overtime winner to send Stanford to College Cup. 

Ten Key Statistics: 

  • Three players with nine or more goals: Aikey (11), Doms (10), Kitahata (9)
  • Aikey has double-digit goals (11) and assists (10)
  • Only six yellow cards in 23 games
  • Center backs Elise Evans, 2012, and Kennedy Wesley, 2009, are only two with two thousand minutes played
  • 5 game winning streak
  • Ryan Campbell ranks 10th nationally with an 87.1% save percentage
  • Previously accomplished undefeated title in 2011
  • Yet to concede more than a goal in a game
  • 2nd ranked defense with .431 goals against average
  • Three Freshman starters
Related Topics: Pacific 12
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