Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - November 4, 2011

Taylor, Noyola hope to go out in style

by Rick Eymer

Lindsay Taylor and Teresa Noyola have enjoyed a long, fruitful soccer relationship. Despite attending different high schools, they have played together for as long as either can remember.

Saturday night's match, scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m. in front of a sellout crowd, against visiting No. 23 California (5-3-2, 12-5-2) represents the final time the two friends will work together in a regular-season contest.

Taylor played basketball, instead of soccer, at Castilleja, while Noyola became one of the top prospects in the country, winning two national high school player-of-the-year awards as a senior at Palo Alto.

Together they have helped lead Stanford's women's soccer through its most productive span in school history. Along with Camille Levin and Kristy Zurmuhlen, Taylor and Noyola make a senior class that has won more matches over the past four seasons than any other school and has the highest winning percentage, according to collegesoccer360.com. Over the past four years, Stanford is 86-4-4 (.936). In regular-season play, the senior class is 72-1-4.

Taylor and Noyola have played in three NCAA Final Fours and two NCAA championship matches. There's really only one thing missing and that's sharing a national title.

"In order to win the national championship, it's going to take a mentality, a hunger, a drive, a desire, to prove that we deserve to win the whole thing," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "But it's not easy getting there. It's a lot of work. And then we've got to finish the job."

The top-ranked Cardinal (10-0, 18-0-1) clinched its third consecutive Pac-12 title last week when Taylor scored twice in Stanford's 2-1 victory over Oregon State, a performance that netted her National Player of the Week.

"L.T. is in great form," Ratcliffe said. "She's getting better and better as the season goes on."

At stake Saturday is the possibility of achieving a third straight unbeaten regular season along with a slew of other streaks. Stanford has a regular-season unbeaten streak of 61, and extended several other impressive streaks. Stanford extended its Pac-12 winning streak to 30, its road (non-neutral) unbeaten streak to 28, its unbeaten streak to 19, and its Pac-12 road winning streak to 16.

"We've got to finish strong and prepare well for the playoffs," Ratcliffe said.

Noyola, among the 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for women's soccer, had her first multi-goal performance in two years and third of her collegiate career when she scored twice against Oregon.

Taylor leads the Pac-12 with 16 goals, giving her 49 for her career and tying her for fifth on the school's all-time list.

Stanford sophomore goalkeeper Emily Oliver allowed just her fourth goal of the season against the Beavers. She's ranked second in the nation in GAA (.272) to Oklahoma State's Adrianna Franch (.229).

As a team, Stanford ranks eighth in GAA and third in goals per game (3.05). Taylor is tied for 12th in goals scored and Noyola is tied for 15th in assists.

The Cardinal will likely host the first four rounds of the NCAA tournament should it continue winning. The first round will be held the weekend of Nov. 11-13. The selection show will be available at ncaa.com on Monday.

The Women's College Cup is at Kennesaw State in Georgia, with semifinals set for Dec. 2. The KSU stadium, with a capacity of 8,300, is the largest women's soccer-only facility.

Taylor and Noyola would love to end their college careers there with a win on Dec. 4.

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