Nov. 5, 2011
And every year, Stanford somehow appears to get stronger.
Taylor and Zurmuhlen scored within 40 seconds of each other in the first half on Saturday to lead No. 1 Stanford to a 2-0 victory over Cal in a Pac-12 women's soccer season finale and allowed the Cardinal to earn its place in history.
Consider their legacy:
Stanford (19-0-1 overall, 11-0 Pac-12) became just the second school to finish three consecutive regular seasons unbeaten, and the first to do so since North Carolina from 1991-93. Stanford extended its regular-season unbeaten streak to 62, its home winning streak to 46, and its conference winning streak to 31.
The class of 2012 has a regular-season record of 75-1-1 and has never lost at home.
"We're going to miss the four seniors," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffesaid. "So, we want to take advantage of having them on the team right now and go all the way."
Stanford honored its seniors in a pregame ceremony before their final home regular season match, and afterward paraded its third consecutive the Pac-12 championship trophy in the rain around soggy, but soldout, Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
North Carolina went four seasons without suffering a regular-season loss, from 1986-90, and followed with another three during a record 92-match winning streak. Stanford's accomplishment is only the third all-time.
"I think it shows the quality of the team we have," Ratcliffe said. "To win all those games is incredible. I'm very proud of the team and the players.
"Ultimately our goal now is to win a national championship. That's always been on our calendar. But three undefeated regular seasons is quite extraordinary." Cal (12-6-2, 5-4-2), which hopes to get an NCAA at-large spot when the 64-team tournament field is announced on Monday, controlled the ball early.
With the conditions growing more unpredictable, it seemed vital to score early. Cal nearly was that team when a Stanford giveaway left Cal's Lauren Battung one-on-one with goalkeeper Emily Oliver, who won the duel with a near-post save.
But it was Stanford that scored first, when Taylor drove a 30-yard free kick off the crossbar and across the goal line for her career-best 17th goal of the season, in the 20th minute.
Moments later, Zurmuhlen fired in a close-range shot off a short pass from Levin after the ball had been knocked around the penalty area off another set piece. It was her fourth goal of the season, and also came in the 20th minute.
"You've got to break the ice and score a goal," Ratcliffe said. "Until you score, things can be a little bit tight. We scored a goal and I think things loosened up and we scored another one straightaway. The goals we scored were fantastic, and it was nice to see two seniors get goals on Senior Day."
Stanford survived a second-half shot off the crossbar by Cal's Taylor Comeau, a former Los Gatos High standout, in recording its 13th shutout. Oliver, a sophomore, earned her eighth of the season and 18th of her career, drawing her within one of Carly Smolak(1997-2000) for fifth place on Stanford's career list.
The Cardinal hopes to earn the overall No. 1 seed for the tournament and expects to play host to a first-round match on Friday.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics