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Women's Soccer 2011: Champs Won't Be Forgotten
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 12/19/2011

Dec. 19, 2011

STANFORD, Calif. - The message following Stanford’s 1-0 national-championship victory over Duke came from coach Paul Ratcliffe, amid confetti blowing from a cannon into the air, and with the sounds of Katie Perry’s “California Gurls” blasting through the Kennesaw, Ga., stadium.

With his team huddled around him and the feelings of victory fresh, Ratcliffe told them, “No matter what happens in the future, you will always be remembered for being the first national champion in Stanford history.”

The Cardinal also may be remembered as one of the greatest champions in collegiate women’s soccer history. In an era of increasing parity in women’s soccer, Stanford became the first undefeated national champion in six years.

Stanford has been building into a collegiate power – over the past four years the Cardinal went 95-4-4, including 53-0-1 at home, and reached four College Cups -- but it took a championship to validate the program’s greatness.

“The biggest factor for me was just experience,” Ratcliffe said. “The teams we had in the past were equally as strong, but experience played into things and really helped give us the edge to win the championship.

The championship-winning goal was an example of how that experience manifested itself on the field: Cami Levin was tackled twice at the edge of the penalty area during an overlapping run from her outside back position. On the second, her crossing pass was blocked by All-America defender Natasha Anasi, with both players falling to the ground.

But Levin got up faster and continued her run, unleashing a second cross, with this one meeting the head of an unguarded Teresa Noyola at the far post in the 53rd minute.

“Cami bounced back to her feet with the determination of, ‘It’s my time to win the championship, finally,’” Ratcliffe said. “That was the difference in the game. It came down to experience and a mentality like they felt like they deserved to be champions and wanted to prove they should be champions.”

The accolades reflected the Cardinal’s dominance: Five players made All-America teams and eight earned All-Pac-12 recognition. Stanford swept the Pac-12 awards for the conference’s top player, coach, freshman, and scholar-athlete, and placed two (Noyola and Lindsay Taylor) among the three finalists for the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy for the top player in college soccer.

Stanford extended its home winning streak to 50, its conference winning streak to 31, and its overall winning streak to 23.

Perhaps most impressive, Stanford has gone 147 matches without losing when scoring a goal, and completed three consecutive undefeated regular seasons -- becoming the first team other than North Carolina to achieve the feat.

The title also seemed to indicate that attractive soccer can win championships. Stanford played a wide-open style that involved all 11 players and used the whole field. The style kept the pressure on a opposing defenses, and helped keep the pressure off its own defense. The result was a team ranked among the national leaders in both scoring offense (fourth, 2.81) and goals-against average (second, 0.34).

“The thing I’m most proud of is not just winning a national championship, but the consistency this team has shown over the years,” Ratcliffe said. “The amount of wins we’ve had shows the style of play is really effective and working. And it shows we have outstanding players that are able to execute.”

At the outset of the season, there were questions on where the goals would come from. It didn’t help that the Cardinal suffered through a miserable spring season, losing at home to Pacific and against Santa Clara, as well as to a local semipro team.

National leading scorer and Hermann Trophy winner Christen Press had graduated. Taylor was coming off two injury-plagued seasons and it appeared that Courtney Verloo, after spending her sophomore season in defense, would be the player most expected to fill the scoring role.

However, days before the season opener, Verloo went down with a season-ending knee injury. But the goals still came.

Taylor scored a Pac-12-leading 20 goals – becoming the third different Stanford player to reach that plateau in as many years, following Press and Kelley O’Hara – and 15 players combined to score 73, one short of the 2010 total of 74.

Asked to name a difference-maker who performed beyond expectations, Ratcliffe rattled off nearly every player, including senior Kristy Zurmuhlen for her breakthrough season and inspirational leadership. And freshman Chioma Ubogagu, who finished with 10 goals and 10 assists, and was the catalyst to the Cardinal’s 3-0 College Cup semifinal victory over Florida State.

And there was Emily Oliver, the sophomore goalkeeper who made spectacular plays in the College Cup, but always was in control. Oliver had 12 shutouts and led the nation in GAA (0.23).

As has been the case the past several seasons, Stanford will need to replace some great players, some of the best in school history. But, somehow, that hasn’t stopped the Cardinal before.

“We’ll see how the freshmen look coming in,” Ratcliffe said. “Hopefully, they’ll come in and be ready to play straightaway. It’ll be very competitive for spots next year. That’s my hope.”

Why expect anything different?

The following is a rundown on honors accumulated by the team and individuals from the 2011 season:

Team
NCAA champions
Pac-12 champions
Fourth consecutive College Cup appearance
Third consecutive College Cup finals appearance
Third consecutive conference title
Third consecutive unbeaten regular season
Best record in nation (25-0-1)
95-4-4 overall over past four seasons
53-0-1 home record over past four seasons
129-match unbeaten streak when scoring a goal
62-match regular-season unbeaten streak
31-match conference winning streak
23-match winning streak
18 shutouts

Paul Ratcliffe
NSCAA National Coach of the Year
NSCAA Pacific Region Coach of the Year
Pac-12 Coach of the Year

Annie Case
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Alina Garciamendez
Soccer America MVPs second team
NSCAA All-Pacific Region first team
All-Pac-12 first team
NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team
Soccer America Preseason All-American
Our Game Magazine NCAA Players to Watch (Sept. 12)
Collegesoccer360.com Primetime Player of the Week (Oct. 10)
Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week (Oct. 10)
Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week (Nov. 21)
Our Game Magazine NCAA Second Round/Round of 16 Team of the Week (Nov. 22)

Natalie Griffen
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Marjani Hing-Glover
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Camille Levin
NSCAA first-team All-America
Soccer America MVPs first team
NSCAA All-Pacific Region first team
All-Pac-12 first team
NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team
Stanford Athletic Board Bob Murphy Award
Our Game weekly Players to Watch (Aug. 22)
Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week (Aug. 22)
Our Game Magazine NCAA Players to Watch (Sept. 12)
Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week (Oct. 10)
Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week (Nov. 21)

Taylor McCann
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Mariah Nogueira
All-Pac-12 honorable mention
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Teresa Noyola
Hermann Trophy winner
Honda Sports Award winner for soccer
Honda Cup finalist
Stanford Athletic Board Outstanding Female Senior
Stanford Athletic Board Bob Murphy Award
Hermann Trophy finalist
NSCAA first-team All-America
Soccer America MVPs first team
No. 1 in Top Drawer Soccer’s National 100 rankings
Hermann Trophy semifinalist
NSCAA All-Pacific Region first team
Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year
All-Pac-12 first team
NCAA College Cup Offensive MVP
NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team
CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 first team
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention
Hermann Trophy watch list
Soccer America Preseason All-American
Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award finalist
Stanford Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week (Dec. 5)

Emily Oliver
NSCAA third-team All-America
NSCAA All-Pacific Region first team
All-Pac-12 first team
NCAA College Cup Defensive MVP
NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention
National leader in goals-against average (0.23)
Stanford Athletic Board Arthur F. Dauer Memorial Sports Performance Award
Our Game Magazine NCAA Players to Watch (Sept. 19)
Our Game Magazine NCAA Players to Watch (Oct. 3)

Shelby Payne
Pac-12 All-Academic second team

Sydney Payne
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Rachel Quon
All-Pac-12 second team
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention
All White Kit Preseason All-American
Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week (Oct. 10)

Kendall Romine
Soccer America All-Freshman second team
Pac-12 All-Freshman Team
Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week (Oct. 10)

Lindsay Taylor
Soccer America Player of the Year
Hermann Trophy finalist
NSCAA first-team All-America
Soccer America MVPs first team
Hermann Trophy semifinalist
Pac-12 Player of the Year
NSCAA All-Pacific Region first team
All-Pac-12 first team
Soccer News Net College Boot Award finalist
Pac-12 scoring champion
Stanford Athletic Board Conference Female Athlete of the Year
NSCAA Player of the Week (Sept. 14)
Pac-12 Player of the Week (Sept. 13)
Soccer America Team of the Week (Sept. 12)
Collegesoccer360.com Primetime Player of the Week (Sept. 12)
TopDrawerSoccer.com Player of the Week (Oct. 24)
Collegesoccer360.com Primetime Team of the Week (Oct. 31)
Soccer America Player of the Week (Oct. 31)
Soccer America Team of the Week (Oct. 31)
Our Game Magazine Elite 8 Team of the Week (Nov. 28)

Madeleine Thompson
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Chioma Ubogagu
Soccer America All-Freshman first team
Pac-12 Freshman of the Year
NSCAA All-Pacific Region second team
All-Pac-12 second team
NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team
Pac-12 All-Freshman Team
Stanford Athletic Board Block 'S' Outstanding Female Freshman
No. 3 in Top Drawer Soccer’s Freshmen Top 100 rankings
Soccer America Preseason Ten Freshmen of Influence
Our Game Magazine NCAA Players to Watch (Aug. 22)
Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week (Aug. 22)
Our Game Magazine NCAA Players to Watch (Oct. 10)
Pac-12 Player of the Week (Oct. 11)
Soccer America Player of the Week (Oct. 12)
Soccer America Team of the Week (Oct. 12)

Nina Watkins
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention

Courtney Verloo
Hermann Trophy watch list

Kristy Zurmuhlen
NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team
Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention
Collegesoccer360.com Primetime Player of the Week (Nov. 28)
Our Game Magazine Elite 8 Team of the Week (Nov. 28)

-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics


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