Zero. Zilch. Nada.
That’s how many goals opponents have scored against the Stanford women’s soccer team in the first nine games of the season – the only team in the nation that has not been scored upon. The Cardinal has strung together a school-record nine consecutive shutouts and own a shutout streak of 852 minutes and 12 seconds dating back to last season.
And it’s not like Stanford is playing a cupcake schedule. No, head coach Paul Ratcliffe prefers to put programs like North Carolina, Portland, Notre Dame, Florida and Santa Clara on the slate to help the Cardinal “tune up” for some intimidating Pac-12 Conference foes.
But it wasn’t too much trouble for Stanford to pass its non-conference tests with flying colors. The Cardinal boasts a 8-0-1 record, which includes a 0-0 tie against the Fighting Irish, heading into league play.
Stanford’s backline of Stephanie Amack, Laura Liedle, Kendall Romine and Maddie Bauer have anchored the team’s stout defense, while goalkeeper Jane Campbell has collected seven shutouts, including a 2-0 victory over Cal Poly last weekend.
“It’s the whole team, playing good soccer, keeping the ball for long periods of time,” said Ratcliffe. “The whole back four is a good group, they’re cohesive, they’re communicating well. And Jane’s having a solid year too.”
The Cardinal starts Pac-12 play at Utah on Friday. The Utes are riding an impressive streak of their own and enter the contest on a 17-game home unbeaten streak. The Utes have not lost at home since October 2012. Utah (7-0-2) is off to its best start in season history and has posted five shutouts in the last six games.
AROUND THE TOP 25
After a six-game road trip, No. 7 Florida returns home (for the first time since Aug. 24) to host No. 22 Georgia on Friday. The Gators racked up more than 9,000 miles during the streak, which included a 2-1 victory over then No. 2 Florida State and an overtime loss to No. 4 Stanford. The Bulldogs head into the match on a five-game winning streak, but have never beaten Florida in Gainesville.
No. 1 UCLA will put a school-record 30-game unbeaten streak on the line when the Bruins face No. 19 Arizona State in Tempe on Friday to open Pac-12 play. Once again, defense keys the Bruins’ success. UCLA has posted seven shutouts on the season, and allowed just 15 shots on goal in nine matches. Arizona State, which has put together a string of six victories, is looking to upset the defending national champions and beat the Bruins for just the second time in program history (last time was 2000). The Sun Devils are averaging 3.0 goals per game, which ranks 13th in the nation. With two goals last Friday, ASU has tallied 27 goals this season, already surpassing its total of 26 in 2013.
No. 15 DePaul hosts Georgetown on Thursday in the BIG EAST Conference opener for both teams. On the merits of a program-best 8-0-1 start, the Blue Demons have attained their highest ranking in school history. Abby Reed has sparked DePaul with an NCAA-leading five game-winning goals. Meanwhile, the Hoyas are led by senior Daphne Corboz, who has collected a school-record 108 career points, including 16 this season.
Illinois jumped three spots to No. 19 in the latest NSCAA Division I Top 25 after the squad shutout Indiana and Purdue in Big Ten action last weekend. Senior Janelle Flaws provides the offensive firepower for Illinois. The second-leading scorer in the nation, Flaws has contributed 11 goals on the season, including seven in the last three contests. Since the start of the 2013 season, Flaws has tallied 34 goals in 33 games – five more than any other player in the nation during the same stretch. Flaws and the Illini take the show on the road this weekend, traveling to Ohio State on Friday and perennial Big Ten power Penn State on Sunday.
No. 2 Virginia Tech enters the weekend with a perfect 10-0-0 record and a 10-game winning streak – the longest in program history. The Hokies have outscored foes by a 38-3 margin led by sophomore forward Murielle Tiernan, who paces Tech with seven goals on the year. The Hokies host No. 20 Notre Dame on Thursday as they look to remain flawless.
SIDEKICKS: West Virginia is riding a seven-match unbeaten streak and has not lost since Aug. 29. The Mountaineers have scored four or more goals in three straight matches for the first time since 2006 … Louisiana Tech leads the nation in scoring with 4.40 goals per game. Senior forward Taylor Dennis tops the team with eight tallies, including a school single-game record four goals against Grambling State last Friday … UALR enters the weekend with a perfect 9-0 record — one of just four teams in the country without a loss or tie in 2014. The Trojans’ start is the best opening to a season of any sport in school history. The team has allowed just two goals all season and is beating teams by an average of nearly four goals per game. Five different players on the roster have at least five goals, and the Trojans have posted seven shutouts. UALR hosts Appalachian State to open Sun Belt Conference play on Friday.
Amy Farnum-Patronis covers women's Division I College Soccer for College Soccer News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.