Winning at a high level is not new for Stanford sophomore Taylor McCann, and as this season has worn on, she has become a bigger part of why the Cardinal are only two wins away from their first NCAA women’s soccer championship.
“She wants to win a national championship for the older players,” Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “She’s learning from the older players about expectations.”
The midfielder came to Stanford in 2010 following her time at Burlingame High School, where she set school records in goals and points and led the Panthers to two Central Coast Section Division II championships.
“I could see that she has a passion for soccer,” Ratcliffe said of McCann while she was in high school. “She’s really developing into a great talent.”
McCann has played in 18 of the team’s 23 games, but has come through in the clutch recently — including a goal against South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Her goal in the 66th minute sealed the 2-0 victory on Nov. 18.
McCann has started coming off the bench earlier and has become one of Stanford’s more potent weapons.
“She has matured as a player,” Ratcliffe said. “She’s starting to understand the game better.”
McCann has averaged more than 30 minutes since tournament play began and has taken seven shots, with five on goal.
She has scored three goals this season, ninth on the team, and has the fifth-best shooting percentage.
“[McCann] is an incredible striker of the ball,” Ratcliffe said.
It took a while for McCann to become adjusted to the college game. She played in 16 games as a freshman, scoring just two goals.
“The collegiate level is so much faster,” Ratcliffe said. “It’s about settling down at the right times.”
Stanford has four seniors, all of whom play key roles for the Cardinal, including leading scorer Lindsay Taylor.
Ratcliffe is hoping McCann can develop into a go-to goal scorer for his team.
Stanford faces Florida State (18-6-1) in the Final Four on Friday in Kennesaw, Ga.
If Stanford wins, it would be the team’s third straight trip to the championship match and the team would take on the winner of the Duke and Wake Forest game.
“The players have worked so hard for four years,” Ratcliffe said. “It would be justice in the end [if we were to win].”
Stanford lost each of the past two championship matches 1-0.
Women’s College Cup
Stanford vs. Florida State
WHAT: Division I women’s soccer semifinal matchup
WHEN: Friday, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Kennesaw, Ga.
NOTE: Duke meets Wake Forest in the other semifinal Friday at 4:30 p.m. ... The semifinal winners will meet Sunday for the national championship at 10 a.m. ... Stanford has scored at least two goals in its past 12 matches.