It was another memorable year of team and individual accomplishments for Stanford student-athletes, who extended their nation-best streak of winning at least one NCAA title to 37 consecutive years, and edged Florida for their 19th consecutive Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup trophy. Here are some of the highlights:
The Cardinal football team set the tone by overcoming two early losses to close with eight straight victories, capturing the Pac-12 championship for the first time since 1999 and the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1972. It marked the third straight year Stanford has played in a BCS game, and has created even higher national expectations this fall, with many publications ranking the Cardinal in the top five in their preseason polls.
For many fans, the Sept. 7 season opener against San Jose State can’t come soon enough. More than 32,000 season tickets already have been sold.
The Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin aside, most will remember the rainy night of Nov. 17th in Eugene, Ore. Digging deep, the resilient Cardinal upset top-ranked Oregon in overtime, 17-14, thanks to a 37-yard field goal by Jordan Williamson. It was sweet redemption for Williamson, who struggled the previous year in the Fiesta Bowl. Afterward, David Shaw, The Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football/Head Coach, presented him with the game ball in the locker room.
For the first time in school history, senior running back Stepfan Taylor surpassed 1,000 yards rushing three consecutive years; freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan jump-started the offense and established himself as the quarterback of the present and future, leading the team to five consecutive wins, all coming against ranked opponents; and the defense turned in a monster season, leading the nation in sacks (57) and ranked second in tackles for losses (38) while dominating opposing teams down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
Among the year’s highlights from the rest of Stanford Athletics:
• Women’s soccer won its fourth straight Pac-12 title and reached its fifth straight NCAA College Cup. The team extended its conference winning streak to 42, and extended its home unbeaten streak to 67. During the past five seasons, the Cardinal has compiled a record of 116-6-5.
• Led by NorPac Player of the Year Becky Dru, the field hockey team won its fifth conference title in six years (6-0) and advanced to the NCAA tournament, where it lost a first-round match to top-ranked North Carolina. A native of Buckinghamshire, England, Dru finished her career with 54 goals, 36 assists and 15 game-winning goals, and was named an NFHCA All-American for the second straight season.
• On Nov. 16, the No. 1-ranked women’s volleyball team clinched its 15th Pac-12 Conference title with a four-set win at No. 5 UCLA, spoiling the opening of renovated Pauley Pavilion. It marked the sixth conference crown in the past seven years for the Cardinal.
• The men’s cross country team won the NCAA West Regional for the third time in four years. After two runner-up finishes, Kathy Kroeger won the Pac-12 women’s cross country individual crown.
• In men’s swimming and diving, Kristian Ipsen and David Nolan won a pair of titles while helping Stanford finish seventh at the NCAA Championships, as the squad set four team records for new coach Ted Knapp, The Goldman Family Director of Men’s Swimming. On the women’s side, first-year coach Greg Meehan led the Cardinal to a dual meet victory against No. 1 USC, claimed the Pac-12 title, and finished eighth at the NCAA Championships.
• The women’s basketball team, led by first-team All-America Chiney Ogwumike, shared the Pac-12 title with Cal at 17-1 to claim a share of its 13th straight regular-season championships, and won the Pac-12 tournament for the seventh straight year. The Cardinal, trying to reach the NCAA Final Four for the sixth consecutive season, lost to Georgia in the regional semifinals in Spokane, Wash., 61-59, and finished with a 33-3 record. Ogwumike, a junior forward, was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year, averaging 22.4 points and 12.9 rebounds.
• Junior Dwight Powell was the only player to rank in the top 10 in conference scoring (14.9) and rebounding (8.4) and earned first-team All-Pac-12 and NABC All-District honors. He also was named the conference’s Most Improved Player and was one of seven Cardinal on the Pac-12 All-Academic team.
• In women’s golf, freshman Mariah Stackhouse set an NCAA record by shooting a 10-under-par 61, sparked by an eye-opening 26 on the front nine at Stanford Golf Course, to win the Peg Barnard Invitational by 10 strokes. The Georgia native earned first-team All-America honors and helped Anne Walker, The Margot and Mitch Milias Director of Women’s Golf, win four tournaments.
• Sophomore Patrick Rodgers won three individual titles and was selected a PING first-team All-American for the second straight year. Rodgers finished the season with a scoring average of 70.77, the lowest in school history.
• The women’s water polo team nearly pulled off an NCAA three-peat, losing a heartbreaker in the title match to USC 10-9 in four overtimes. The Cardinal finished 29-3.
• Houston native Mark Appel established a school record in strikeouts with 372 and was named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The All-American was the first overall selection in the Major League Baseball draft by the Houston Astros.
• Freshman Kelsey Stevens became just the sixth Stanford softball pitcher in school history to record a perfect game, against Virginia. Teagan Gerhart collected her 100th career win as the Cardinal earned its 16th straight postseason appearance.
• Junior wrestler Bret Baumbach won his weight class at the Pac-12 tournament and became just the 15th conference champion in school history. His showing marked the first time in school history that Stanford has produced a conference champion four years in a row.
• Synchronized swimming won its seventh U.S. Collegiate title. Senior Olivia Morgan was the event’s high point winner, finishing first in every event she entered.
• Men’s gymnastics finished third at the NCAA Championships as six gymnasts earned nine All-America honors. Eddie Penev was named the Nissen-Emery Award winner as the nation’s top senior male gymnast, becoming the fourth Cardinal accorded the honor.
• The women qualified for the NCAA Championships for the sixth time in seven years, with senior Nicole Dayton and freshman Taylor Rice collecting All-America honors. • Sailing finished fifth in women’s racing, sixth in team racing and sixth in coed racing at the ICSA National Championships.
• In women’s track and field, Kori Carter set collegiate and meet records in winning the NCAA 400-meter hurdles in 53.21. Her 18 points boosted Stanford to a sixth-place team finish, clinching the Directors’ Cup for Stanford.
• In men's track and field Michael Atchoo ran the second-fastest mile in Stanford history -- and fastest in 27 years indoors or outdoors -- when he blew away the field at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships to win in 3:57.14.
• The lacrosse team earned its first NCAA tournament victory, clipping Notre Dame on a goal by Hannah Farr with four seconds remaining. The Cardinal won its eighth Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title in nine years.
• The 12th-seeded Stanford women’s tennis team won its 17th NCAA title in dramatic fashion, beating Texas A&M, 4-3 in the final. Kristie Ahn secured the winning point for the Cardinal, which knocked off top-ranked Florida in the semifinals and became the lowest-ever seed to win the championship. Junior Nicole Gibbs won her second consecutive NCAA singles crown and repeated as the Honda Sports Award winner.
• The women’s squash team finished seventh in the country and was the only team west of Pennsylvania to crack the Top 25. The Cardinal received the Chaffee Award for sportsmanship and Pamela Chua earned the Richey Award presented annually to the top women’s collegiate player in the country.
• Freshman Alexander Massialas captured the NCAA men’s foil title, becoming the school’s first foil champion since 2000. Vivian Kong tied for third in women’s epee. Stanford finished eighth at the NCAA Championships for its best showing since 2008.
• Sand volleyball became Stanford’s 36th sport, debuting with a 4-1 home victory against Santa Clara.
• The men's volleyball team earned its sixth consecutive Top 10 finish and may have found a future national player of the year in freshman setter James Shaw, the son of former Stanford men's and women's coach Don Shaw.
• The women's lightweight rowing team won its fourth consecutive National Rowing Association championship.
• In men's rowing, Stanford beat Cal in the Big Row for the first time since 2008.
• The men's tennis team reached the NCAA tournament for the 35th time.
• Bret Bonanni was named MPSF Newcomer of the Year as part of an outstanding freshman year, in which he was named second-team All-America and made his debut with the U.S. senior national team.
For Stanford in 2012-13, there certainly was much to celebrate, and much to remember.
-- Mark Soltau, Stanford Athletics
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Palo Alto native Mark Soltau has spent his whole life and much of his career around Stanford sports. A sportswriter for 35 years, Soltau spent 16 (1981-97) at the San Francisco Examiner, where he covered not only the Cardinal, but all five 49ers Super Bowl-championship teams. Golf always has been his passion and Soltau served as the sport's beat writer for the Examiner, national golf writer for CBS Sportsline, contributing editor to Golf Digest, and since 1997 has been the editor of tigerwoods.com.