Los Angeles Soccer: Chante' Sandiford

UCLA, Stanford in Pac-12 showdown

October, 6, 2011
It's No. 1 vs. No. 3 when UCLA visits Stanford on Sunday, always the premier showdown in what's now the Pacific 12 Conference -- and this year the biggest in the country.

The top-ranked Cardinal (11-0-1), national runners-up the last two seasons, has won the last four meetings with the Bruins (10-0-1), including a round-of-16 clash in last year's NCAA tournament. They're unbeaten in their last 57 regular-season games, since falling to UCLA on Oct. 31, 2008.

UCLA, which is No. 1 in the RPI and No. 2 in Soccer America's rankings, has used dominant defensive displays while winning its last seven games, five of them by 1-0 scorelines, but its depth in the nets will be tested after senior goalkeeper Chante' Sandiford tore her left Achilles' tendon during training last week. She was the Bruins' starter the past two seasons, but freshman Katelyn Rowland has been in the nets most of this fall.

The Bruins on Friday face California (8-3-1), with Stanford starting the weekend against struggling USC (3-9-0). Cardinal coach Paul Ratcliffe, who played on UCLA's 1990 NCAA men's title-winners, will claim his 200th career victory with his next win.

Ratcliffe, who is from Calabasas, guided St. Mary's for five seasons before taking charge at Stanford in 2003. His teams are 81-4-4 in the past three-plus seasons.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Connor Brandt (Temecula/Great Oak HS) turned a 20th-minute takeaway into a goal to lift Cal State Dominguez Hills to a 1-0 victory Friday at San Francisco State. He went one better two days later, with a steal and a chip in overtime to carry the Toros past Cal Poly Pomona, 2-1.

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COLLEGE: Snow era starts at UCLA

August, 19, 2011
B.J. Snow knows well the expectations that exist for UCLA's women's soccer program. Seven straight trips to the NCAA College Cup final four and eight in 10 years created a standard that must be met. No trophies leaves a void that must be filled.

Snow is aware of all of this, and everything else he ought to to know heading into his debut as the Bruins' head coach. He has spent five years in the program, the past two as Jill Ellis' assistant head coach, and his masters in Westwood are expecting a seamless transition.

So is Snow, who contributed to four of those final-four appearances and has at his command the kind of exceptional talent the Bruins always possess, even if they run a little young this year. They've had almost no time to prepare for Friday night's opener at Cal State Northridge, but they're ready for their first test. And Snow is ready for his.

“I've been able to be head coach at UCLA in a number games when Jill was out of town or couldn't be there,” Snow, who also assisted Ellis on occasion with U.S. youth national teams, said Thursday. “It certainly helps me make the transition smoother. But when the clock hits 6:59 and the game is about to start, I'm sure the emotions will be stirred up, that I'll be excited and nervous. If I wasn't, I guess that would be a bad thing.”

Snow has ample pedigree. He starred for two NCAA championship teams under legendary coach Jerry Yeagley at Indiana University and, after joining UCLA as a voluntary assistant in 2006, rapidly evolved into Ellis' right-hand man. He's a rising star in the coaching game, and his first team -- built, of course, with Ellis, who resigned in January to take a player-development post for U.S. Soccer -- has the tools to return to the College Cup after falling short in a difficult campaign last year.

BOUNCING BACK: The Bruins endured an injury epidemic and posted an uncharacteristic 13-8-2 mark, finishing fourth (at 5-4-0) in the Pac-10, suffering three home losses (the first ending a nation's-best 73-game unbeaten streak, dating to 2005) and exiting in the NCAA's round of 16 (with a 3-0 loss to Stanford).

“Last year was an interesting year,” Snow said. “It probably has zero impact on what we're doing now. We have more new players than returning players, and they had nothing to do with what happened last year.

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LOCALS: Camarillo's Eagles set a standard

July, 18, 2011

Until last year, only one club team had won three national age-specific soccer championships. Now only Eagles Soccer Club, from Camarillo, has won four.

Eagles SC rallied to force penalty kicks, then prevailed from the spot against Kansas City (Kan.) Dynamo after a 2-2 tie Sunday, retaining their title in the Women's Under-23 Division at the U.S. Amateur Soccer Association championships in Bowling Green, Ky.

The Eagles, a virtual local college all-star team, were one of three L.A.-area clubs -- all of them Region IV champions -- to reach USASA title games.

Manhattan Beach's Doxa Italia lost on penalties following a 2-2 draw with national amateur powerhouse NY Pancyprian Freedom in the USASA Men's Open Cup, the three-day event's premier competition. Irvine's PSA Elite fell, 3-2, in overtime to RWB Adria, a Croatian club from Chicago, in the Men's Amateur Cup.

San Diego Surf won the Men's Over-30 championship.

USC's Haley Boysen (Moorpark/Harvard-Westlake School) was the hero for Eagles SC, scoring in the final 30 seconds of overtime with a 25-yard shot off the far post. Kelsey Kraft (Rancho Santa Margarita/Santa Margarita Catholic HS), who scored the first Eagles goal, along with Long Beach State's Lindsay Bullock (Manhattan Beach/Mira Costa HS) and UC Irvine's Coco Goodson converted penalties and UCLA goalkeeper Chante' Sandiford made three saves in the 3-2 shootout triumph.

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November, 11, 2010
UCLA survived its first test in the NCAA Division I women's tournament, but just barely.

The Bruins needed goal-line heroics from defender Lauren Barnes, two saves from goalkeeper Chante' Sandiford and a perfect spot kick from Elise Britt to beat BYU on penalties following a 0-0 draw Thursday at Drake Stadium.

"This is the character that I've been waiting to see in this team," UCLA coach Jill Ellis told the school's website. "I was blown away by the way we competed. It's just constant belief that it can go your way, and that's honestly what it comes down to."

Burgeoning U.S. women's national-teamer Sydney Leroux nearly tallied twice for UCLA, but she hit the post at the end of the first half and was stopped on a 108th-minute breakaway.

UCLA (12-7-2), which is seeking an eighth successive College Cup final four appearance, on Saturday will face Central Florida (15-4-3), a 2-1 winner over Fresno State in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader.

The Bruins could be without star star midfielders Jenna Richmond and Kylie Wright (Rancho Santa Margarita/Tesoro HS). Richmond, a U.S. under-20 national-teamer, was stretchered off in the 17th minute with a knee injury; Wright had to be carted off 11 minutes later with an ankle injury.

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