February 8, 2012

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Season Preview (WD1): No. 9 Stanford

by Justin Feil | LaxMagazine.com | Related: Lyndsey Munoz In-Season Blog

Sophomore midfielder Anna Kim, the MPSF Newcomer of the Year in 2011, will be one of several players looked at to fill needs on offense.
© Verdict Photography

Amy Bokker wants her team to live up to the Cardinal standard.

"Our goal is to get to the final four and our goal is to win a national championship," Bokker said. "At Stanford, we're surrounded by that in other sports."

Stanford proclaims itself "Home of Champions." Bokker was reminded of the expectations again when the Cardinal women's soccer team won the national championship in the fall.

"For me, I'm starting to get it," said Bokker, who is in her fourth year in Palo Alto. "I have a better handle on what it means to be a Stanford student-athlete. We're establishing what we want our culture to look like. It doesn't come without growing pains."

The Cardinal has increased its scoring and win totals in each of the last five seasons, but this season will test that momentum. Players not returning from last year's school-record 16-3 team that scored 301 goals include Sarah Flynn, Leslie Foard, Lauren Schmidt and Karen Nesbitt, the Cardinal's top four scorers who accounted for nearly 50 percent of the offense.

"Clearly we graduated a lot of our strengths," Bokker said. "It's our job as coaches to empower our returners and get these players in the shadows to step up."

Stanford spent the fall adjusting to life without the fantastic four and without first-team All-MPSF goalie Annie Read and defender Paige Farmakis. While the team feels good about sophomore goalie Lyndsey Munoz and the abilities of an experienced defense, it must find new sources of offense.

"This year, we're playing a more deliberate style and working each end," Bokker said. "We have a lot to offer on the defensive end by showing our opponents different looks. Getting shot opportunities for our lower attackers is what we worked on a lot this fall."

The Cardinal has a strong cast of candidates to pick up the scoring. Senior midfielder Emilie Boeri led the team in scoring last year before an injury cost her three games. Junior midfielder Jackie Candelaria was just behind Boeri. Sophomore midfielder Anna was the MPSF Newcomer of the Year in 2011, and sophomore attacker Rachel Ozer is another dangerous sophomore. Attacker Anna Boeri, Emilie's twin sister, can also creating scoring chances.

Senior Catherine Swanson, the lone first-team All-MPSF selection back and one of the Stanford's best dodgers, will move from low defense to midfield. The Cardinal also moved senior attacker Maria Fortino into the midfield and will employ several freshmen there.

"The reason we were able to score a ton of goals was in the midfield," Bokker said. "We were running up and down. That's where we lost a lot of scoring. It will be a different kind of scoring this year. We'll definitely be more disciplined. In January, we'll find our rhythm and what works best for us."

Stanford may not score as many goals as it did last year, but Bokker is confident that if it can make the most of its possessions, it will be in position to match the success of its fellow Cardinal teams.

"There's a lot of pressure I put on myself to keep up with everything that's going on around here," she said. "I wouldn't want it any other way. The players are ready to step up to the challenge. It's exciting to see how quickly they're ready to step up."

This article appears in the February issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription to LM. Follow Stanford all season long on LaxMagazine.com, and check out the Cardinal team page.


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