The Wildcat women's soccer team opened the 2008 season by hosting three straight home games, including the Lakeside Invitational, at Lakeside Field. A few days later the team traveled across the country to Malibu, Calif. But even 1,700 miles from their Northwestern home, the Wildcats maintained home-field advantage.
"There was way more purple in the stands than the colors of any of the teams we were playing, including Pepperdine, the host school," head coach Stephanie Erickson (SESP98) said of the Pepperdine Nike Challenge. "It was a really special trip for the families of so many of our girls."
Eleven members of Northwestern's 24-woman roster hail from California. That's a stark contrast from four years ago, when only freshmen Amanda Hoffman, Jenny Dunn and Jeanette Lorme, now all seniors, called the Golden State home.
Erickson, now in her third season, considers California a hotbed of soccer talent. Athletes play soccer year-round because of the climate, and many of the colleges across the state have a prestigious soccer history.
One of those universities is Stanford, where Erickson worked as an assistant coach and interim head coach. During her four years on the Cardinal staff, Erickson tapped into California's pipeline and became acquainted with the state's top club teams. That experience led her to the Mountain View-Los Altos Mercury, located near San Francisco. Three players from that team are now freshmen at Northwestern.
Erickson credits Northwestern's reputation beyond athletics as a main reason she is able to recruit so successfully more than a thousand miles away. More Northwestern students hail from California than any state outside of Illinois.
— Ryan Morton (J08)