The Stanford Cardinal women’s soccer team was the decade’s dominant team with three Division 1 national championships. They also lost in the finals twice, in 2009 and 2010. Two of the team’s most famous graduates, United States national team stars Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press, did not win national titles, but they helped set the scene in Palo Alto, California, where Paul Ratcliffe has coached Stanford the last 17 seasons.
Ratcliffe led the Cardinal to the 2019 title, defeating North Carolina in penalties. During this week’s On Frame with Pro Soccer USA’s Glenn Crooks, Ratcliffe talks about this year’s team and his lengthy coaching career.
This year, Stanford was led by a player with remarkable numbers. Junior forward Catarina Macario had 32 goals and 23 assists in 24 matches.
“She is absolutely amazing,” Ratcliffe said. “Usually you see a player and they are lopsided one way or another – either a goal scorer or a great creator. To get both like you do with Catarina is what separates her as, in my mind, the best player in the entire country.”
Ratcliffe’s first experience coaching the women’s side came when UCLA started its program in 1999. He worked under two-time World Cup champion coach Jill Ellis.
Ratcliffe also played at UCLA for the late Sigi Schmid and won a national title with teammates Cobi Jones and Brad Friedel.
“Sigi was a great influence on me,” the 50-year old Ratcliffe said. “A fantastic person, fantastic coach and he helped me so much getting me involved in coaching. He asked me if I could help with the new women’s program at UCLA to give me a chance to really coach.”