COLLEGE/D1 WOMEN: No stopping No. 1 Stanford

Top-ranked Stanford came to L.A. last weekend and demonstrated exactly why they're No. 1, turning aside challenges from USC and UCLA to remain the last unbeaten NCAA Division I side at 11-0-2.

Senior forward Christen Press, the player-of-the-year front runner from Palos Verdes Estates, scored in both games -- her 15th and nation's-best 16th goals of the season -- to break Sarah Rafanelli's 17-year-old record at Stanford with her 60th and 61st career goals.

"It's a big honor. It's a big surprise," Press, who prepped at The Chadwick School, said after Sunday's 2-0 victory at UCLA. "You look back on it, and it's just seems like, wow, these four years have gone by so fast, and I don't want it to end."

Certainly, not without a trophy. The Cardinal reached the NCAA title game last year, falling to 20-time D1 champion North Carolina, and they'll face some tough tests before a titlist is crowned Dec. 5 in Cary, N.C. No. 2 Portland, the third-ranked Tar Heels and fourth-ranked Notre Dame, whose lone loss is to UCLA, always are in contention. So is UCLA, which has dropped two of their past three games at Drake Stadium after its five-year, 73-game home unbeaten streak ended Oct. 1 against Pepperdine.

The 16th-ranked Bruins are 8-4-1. Even after the departures of U.S. national team star Lauren Cheney, midfielder Kristina Larsen (Mission Viejo/Mission Viejo HS) and oft-injured Canadian national-teamer Kara Lang, nobody expected UCLA, ranked No. 3 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason poll, to have four losses by mid-October.

"Last year, the mentality of some of the players -- and I'm not faulting this group, but a Larsen, a Cheney: Those are feisty competitiors," said Jill Ellis, who has guided UCLA to the past seven NCAA College Cup final fours and eight in the past 10 years. "We had a lot of [players with] that never-say-die mentality. And I think this group is kind of finding their identity. [We've got] different types of leadersghip. It's not leading by grabbing you by the scruff of the neck. It's leading by encouragement and playing. It's a different team for me.

"We've taken familiar paths to where we want to get to, to the promised land, and this might be a different way of getting there. And so I look at it that way. ... I think at the end of the day, it's hitting it when you need to hit it, and certainly [Stanford] was a good test and a good challenge for us."

As for Stanford, Ellis -- whose team lost to Stanford on Press' overtime goal in last year's semifinals -- says "they're a quality team. I think they were a better team last year.

"They're a quality team, no doubt. I think they're more of a team-oriented team, and the way they play makes them an incredibly strong opponent," but WPS Rookie of the Year Ali Riley (Pacific Palisades/Harvard-Westlake School) and MAC Hermann Award winner (as college soccer's top player) Kelley O'Hara have moved on, and they're not players you replace.

The Cardinal have few weaknesses. Press might be the big name, but there also are two U.S. youth internationals in midfield -- sophomore Mariah Nogueira (Westminster/Marina HS) and junior Teresa Noyola -- and an expert backline featuring U.S. youth national-teamers Rachel Quon and Courtney Verloo, plus Mexican national-teamer Alina Garciamendez and veteran Camille Levin (Newport Coast/Tarbut V'Torah Community Day School).

Stanford plays a terrific possession game that benefits from uncommon patience and movement that opens and exploits space in midfield and behind the backline.

"We've been able to win big games this year, and that shows a lot of character," Press said. "We've got a lot more to prove."

GAME OF THE YEAR: USC drew 1,429 out to the Coliseum see their game Friday night against Stanford, a 2-1 win for the Cardinal. They were back at tiny McAllister Field, just a block or so north of campus, Sunday to play Cal, and only 455 were on hand.

They saw a majestic encounter, a 5-4 overtime triumph for the No. 19 Women of Troy in a back-and-forth affair that went to overtime when freshman Elizabeth Eddy (Newport Beach/Newport Harbor HS) finished off her hat trick to tie the score just 14 seconds after U.S. national-teamer Alex Morgan (Diamond Bar/Diamond Bar HS) netted the third goal in her hat trick to give the Bears an 89th-minute lead.

Cal rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits, taking control as Morgan scored in the 76th, 87th and 89th minutes -- her 11th, 12th and 13th goals of the season. Eddy then tallied almost directly from kickoff, and USC prevailed on a free kick four minutes into overtime by Ashli Sandoval (Jamul/Granite Hills HS).

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Got to go with Eddy, who doubled her collegiate output with the hat trick against Cal.

UCI ROLLS ON: UC Irvine is 12-1-2 overall, 4-0-0 in the Big West and ranked 18th in the NSCAA poll after sweeping Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara on the toughest two-game swing in the conference. Tanya Taylor (Buena Park/Sunny Hills HS), who deserves All-America consideration, scored her ninth goal and got her seventh assist in the 3-0 romp over Cal Poly, then set up Alexis Rafael's winner deep in overtime of the 2-1 decision over UCSB.

Taylor is the Big West's Offensive Player of the Week, and Nikki Forrest (Upland/Upland HS) is the Defensive Player of the Week after leading the Anteaters to their seventh shutout of the campaign and in shutting down Santa Barbara, which scored its goal on a penalty kick by Kailyn Kugler (San Clemente/San Clemente HS).

BIG GOAL: Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine opened their West Coast Conference slate with a 1-1 draw in Westchester. Junior Rebecca Klamser (Ventura/Buena HS) picked the best time (88th minute) and best shot (from 40 yards) to score her first career goal, pulling the Waves even. Both teams head to the Pacific Northwest this weekend for games against second-ranked Portland (13-1-0) and minnow Gonzaga.

NOTES: Surprising Cal State Northridge is second in the Big West after splitting games on a trek to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. The Matadors are 3-1 after beating Cal Poly, 2-0, Sunday on goals by Sonia Espitia (Paramount/St. Joseph HS) and Desiree Cardenas (Los Angeles/West Covina HS and Cerritos College). ... Karina Camacho contributed a goal and an assist as Long Beach State remained unbeaten in the Big West with a 3-0 romp over UC Riverside, which has been shut out in 11 of 13 games. ... Danielle Bitonti (Winchester/Chaparral HS) scored the winner in the 73rd minute as Cal State Fullerton edged UC Davis, 3-2, in its Big West opener. ... Six of eight WCC teams have winning records: No. 2 Portland (13-1-0), No. 12 Santa Clara (8-3-2), LMU (8-3-1), Pepperdine (7-3-4), St. Mary's (7-3-3) and San Diego (7-5-2).


UCLA (8-4-1, 1-1-0)

Friday: UCLA 1 (Leroux 83), California 0

Sunday: UCLA 0, Stanford 2 (Press pen. 23, Nogueira 36)

This week: Friday at Oregon, Sunday at Oregon State

USC (8-3-2, 1-1-0)

Friday: USC 1 (Bruno 84), Stanford 2 (Press 59, Noyola 65)

Sunday: USC 5 (Ohai 2, Eddy 4, 76, 89, Sandoval 95), California 4 (Battung 4, Morgan 76, 87, 89), OT

This week: Friday at Oregon State, Sunday at Oregon

Pac-10 standings: Stanford 2-0-0, Washington 2-0-0, Oregon St. 1-0-0, USC 1-1-0, UCLA 1-1-0, Arizona State 1-1-0, Washington State 1-1-0, Oregon 0-1-0, California 0-2-0, Arizona 0-2-0.


CAL STATE FULLERTON (4-9-0, 1-1-0)

Friday: UC Davis 2 (Kemp 19, Wilson 48), Cal State Fullerton 3 (Smith 24, Chavez 46, Bitonti 73)

Sunday: Pacific 3 (Hargrave 53, Wavomba 72, Teramae 83), Cal State Fullerton 0

This week: Thursday vs. UC Riverside, Sunday vs. Long Beach State


Friday: UC Santa Barbara 1 (Kugler 32), Cal State Northridge 0

Sunday: Cal Poly 0, Cal State Northridge 2 (Espitia 21, Cardenas 77)

This week: Friday at UC Irvine, Sunday vs. UC Riverside

LONG BEACH STATE (9-3-2, 2-0-1)

Friday: Long Beach State 3 (N. Hubbard 53, Camacho 65, Strozier 75), UC Riverside 0

This week: Sunday at Cal State Fullerton

UC IRVINE (12-1-2, 4-0-0)

Friday: Cal Poly 0, UC Irvine 3 (Kopf 4, Taylor 6, Rodriguez 54)

Sunday: UC Santa Barbara 1 (Kugler pen. 25), UC Irvine 2 (Walker 40, Rafael 109), OT

This week: Friday vs. Cal State Northridge

UC RIVERSIDE (1-10-2, 0-3-0)

Friday: Long Beach State 3 (N. Hubbard 53, Camacho 65, Strozier 75), UC Riverside 0

This week: Thursday at Cal State Fullerton, Sunday at Cal State Northridge

Big West standings: UC Irvine 4-0-0, Cal State Northridge 3-1-0, Long Beach State 2-0-1, UC Santa Barbara 2-2-0, Cal Poly 1-2-1, Cal State Fullerton 1-1-0, Pacific 1-2-0, UC Riverside 0-3-0, UC Davis 0-3-0


LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (8-3-1, 0-0-1), Westchester

Saturday: Loyola Marymount 1 (Sorentino 61), Pepperdine 1 (Klamser 88), OT

This week: Friday at Portland, Sunday at Gonzaga

PEPPERDINE (7-3-4, 0-0-1), Malibu

Saturday: Loyola Marymount 1 (Sorentino 61), Pepperdine 1 (Klamser 88), OT

This week: Friday at Gonzaga, Sunday at Portland

WCC standings: Portland 1-0-0, Santa Clara 1-0-0, St. Mary's 1-0-0, Loyola Marymount 0-0-1, Pepperdine 0-0-1, San Diego 0-1-0, Gonzaga 0-1-0, San Francisco 0-1-0