Taylor McCann’s first NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament began with elation but ended with dejection. The Stanford sophomore is hopeful that this year’s go-around has only positive memories.
As a freshman, McCann scored on just about her first touch after entering as a reserve in the Cardinal’s tournament-opening 3-0 win over Sacramento State. The packed house at home, the night game and the big stage combined to make that goal her individual highlight of the year.
But the lasting memory for McCann and her teammates came five matches later, as Stanford lost 1-0 to Notre Dame in the NCAA final – the Cardinal’s only defeat of the year. This year, the program’s singular goal is to avoid that heartache.
“It was tough,” McCann, a former Burlingame High standout, said of the second straight year an undefeated Stanford team fell in the championship match. “I definitely think being so close has been a great motivator for us to take it all the way this year.”
With three regular-season games left, top-ranked Stanford appears right on track to accomplish that goal. It is 16-0-1 – extending the program’s regular-season unbeaten streak to 59 games -- and within one win of the Pac-12 championship.
McCann has a similar role as she did as a freshman – she comes off the bench, mostly to spell members of a dominant forward line. The 5-foot-5 forward/midfielder’s energy, speed and tenacity are important assets for a team seeking to have no drop-off no matter who’s on the field.
“I think this year I’ve been a little more involved,” said McCann, who has averaged 17.8 minutes while playing in all but four games. “Our team is really deep. We’ve been relying on a lot of players to make a difference. The subs have gone in this year and really helped the team.”
McCann, a key member of Burlingame’s back to-back Central Coast Section Division II championship teams in 2008-09, said it’s been a definite adjustment to watch a lot of the action from the sideline. But she said “it’s surreal” to be part of such a star-studded team, and she is trying to embrace her role.
“I still feel like I’m really growing from playing with the most elite players,” she added.
McCann, who is considering declaring a major in international relations, called her overall Stanford experience “the perfect mix of everything great.”
“Everyone here is really humble,” she said. “We have such great academics and great athletics. It’s a super well-rounded school. It’s a great environment to learn and become better at many facets of life.”
The only way the Stanford women’s soccer program could be better would be to win that elusive final game to capture its first NCAA championship. And McCann can’t wait to help the Cardinal do just that.