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UCLA, Stanford in Pac-12 showdown

10/7/2011

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.

Local conference Players of the Week:

Big West Conference (NCAA Division I)

Men: Offensive -- Cal State Northridge's Carlos Benavides (Woodland Hills/El Camino Real HS); Defensive -- Cal Poly's Chase Houser (Chino Hills/Damien HS)

Women: Defensive -- Cal State Northridge's Cynthia Jacobo (Granada Hills/Granada Hills HS)

California Collegiate Athletic Assoiation (NCAA Division II)

Men: Cal State Dominguez Hills' Connor Brandt (Temecula/Great Oak HS)

Golden State Athletic Conference (NAIA)

Men: Offensive -- Vanguard's Kevin Cornwall; Defensive -- Vanguard's Cody Adams (Rancho Santa Margarita/Trabuco Hills HS)

Women: Offensive -- Point Loma Nazarene's Krista Gregory (Lake Forest/El Toro HS)

ETC.: Redlands, under the guidance of former Galaxy and U.S. Soccer staff coach Ralph Perez (who serves as the Galaxy's radio analyst), is streaking toward the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs, who shared the regular-season title with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps but lost in the tournament final and missed the NCAA Division III playoffs, are 7-0-0 in SCIAC play, 10-3-0 overall, and have five players with at least four goals (Cody Carlson, with six, leads the team), three with at least four assists (Gabe Ramirez leads with six), and a defense that has conceded just nine goals and 50 shots on goal in 13 games. They play Saturday morning at second-place Pomona-Pitzer (6-4-0), which is 5-1-0 in SCIAC action.

RANKINGS: Long Beach State, with Nadia Link putting up All-America numbers, has won five in a row. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America has noticed, and the 49ers (9-3-1) entered the top 25 this week, at No. 23. Gone from the list: Their Big West rival UC Irvine, following a 0-1-1 start to its conference schedule.

Here's a list of local teams in the NSCAA rankings:

DIVISION I

Men

7. UC Irvine

15. UCLA

19. UC Santa Barbara

Receiving votes: Cal State Fullerton

Nos. 1-3: Connecticut, Maryland and Akron

Women

3. UCLA

8. Pepperdine

23. Long Beach State

Receiving votes: UC Irvine

Nos. 1-2: Stanford and Oklahoma State

DIVISION II

Men

24. Cal State Dominguez Hills

Receiving votes: Cal State L.A.

Nos. 1-3: Fort Lewis (Colo.), Franklin Pierce (N.H.) and Simon Fraser (B.C.)

Women

24. Cal State L.A.

Nos. 1-3: Bridgeport (Conn.), UC San Diego and California (Pa.)

DIVISION III

Men

Nos. 1-3: St. Lawrence (N.Y.), Messiah (Pa.) and Christopher Newport (Va.)

Women

17. Cal Lutheran

Nos. 1-3: Messiah (Pa.), William Smith (N.Y.) and Wheaton (Ill.)

NAIA

Men

5. Azusa Pacific

11. Concordia

19. Vanguard

24. The Master's

Receiving votes: Biola

Nos. 1-3: Hastings (Neb.), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and Rio Grande (Ohio)

Women

3. Azusa Pacific

4. Concordia

14. The Master's

Receiving votes: Vanguard

Nos. 1-2: Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and Lee (Tenn.)