No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 10 Michigan: Cardinal finally open 2013 season

Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Stanford is starting their 2013 season by hosting No. 10 ranked Michigan.

The two-time defending NCAA champions, and current No. 1 team in the country, the Stanford Cardinal open their title defense on Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. ET to host No. 10 ranked Michigan Wolverines. The Cardinal are the heavy favorite in this, and probably every game this year, due to returning three players who were part of the United States women's gold medal team in the 2012 London Olympic Games.

In addition to those three Stanford returns first-team All-American Kaley Dodson after a 29-goal campaign in 2012, and ACPWC All-America honorable mention Ashley Grossman.

Those players are Annika Dries, Melissa Seidemann and 2012 FINA player of the year plus MVP of the London Games, Maggie Steffens. The least to say this will be a very difficult game for Michigan, but it will prepare them for CWPA play against the likes of Princeton, Hartwick and Brown.

Stanford head coach knows there will be challenges with a new group this season, but he as his team is ready to get into competition:

"We're excited to get started. It's been awhile now since our championship last May, and the Olympics this past summer," said Stanford head coach John Tanner, who enters his 16th season at the Cardinal helm. "Having those people come back, it is a big challenge I feel because unlike any team I've been around we really have seven distinct groups or classifications around our team. We have Mel as a fifth-year senior, we have fourth-year seniors, Anni as a fourth-year junior, we have third-year juniors, second-year sophomores, second-year freshmen and first-year freshmen."

So far this year, Michigan is 1-3 with a win over Colorado State, but lost to No. 3 UCLA, No. 7 San Diego State and No. 9 San Jose State. Michigan is also 0-9 all-time against Stanford, and baring an amazing game, will be 0-10.

The key players for Michigan are Kikki Golden who scored eight goals in four games this past weekend, and is No. 6 all-time in goals scored for the Wolverines and then there is Lauren Colton who had a hat trick against Colorado State, her 12th of her career. Michigan also has a solid group of freshman, and four of them -- Bryce Beckwith, Presley Pender, Kelly Martin and Julia Riemersma -- each scored at least one goal this past weekend.

Michigan does have talent to from their starters to give Stanford a challenge, but the depth and experience for the Cardinal will be too much to overcome. Look for this game to be a possible blowout in favor of Stanford.

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