Heading toward the determination of the winner of the 2013-14 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, gostanford.com will provide a progression of each of Stanford’s 19 consecutive victories. Here is the 18th, in 2011-12:
Directors' Cup No. 18 (2011-12) | 2011-12 Season In Photos
A DAY BEFORE the Fiesta Bowl, David Shaw, Stanford's Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football, was asked what he will miss most about Andrew Luck, perhaps the greatest quarterback in school history. It was to be Luck’s final game.
"There's not one thing," Shaw said. "He's a future College Football Hall of Famer. There's nothing that he doesn't do well.
"It's been an unbelievable four years with him -- his leadership, his ability to be an ultimate competitor, to stay even keel. For that guy to have that drive and fire and still think so clearly in high-pressure situations with all the things we put on his plate ... he's one of a kind."
Luck had the opportunity to leave Stanford after the 2010 season, but he chose to remain for one more year and earn his degree in architectural design. He served as an example to other athletes in how a star can arrange his priorities and dedicate himself to academics and the college experience.
His final season ended with a 41-38 overtime Fiesta Bowl loss, closing an 11-2 season. Luck hit 27 of 31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns in his final game before heading to the NFL. It was a difficult loss, but Luck did not sulk. Instead, he consoled teammates and walked off the field with his arm around teammate Michael Thomas, a former high school rival from his hometown of Houston. Both were smiling.
Success on the football field helped give Stanford a head start in capturing its 18th consecutive Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup , with 1384.25 points. The Cardinal scored in 25 sports, with the lowest-scoring five women's sports omitted due to the maximum of 10 allowed.
For four years, the Stanford women’s soccer team won in record proportions, going 95-4-4 overall and 53-0-1 at home.
All it needed was only a championship to justify its place among the greats. Mission accomplished.
Teresa Noyola's header in the 53rd minute of the 2011 NCAA College Cup final in Kennesaw, Ga., was enough to give Stanford a 1-0 victory over Duke and stamp the Cardinal as one of the greatest teams of all-time.
"We've shown great character to not let the heartbreaks of the last two seasons catch up," Noyola said. "Not many teams can bounce back from heartbreaks like that. That in itself shows great character."
Stanford had reached the previous two NCAA finals, going undefeated in regular-season play before losing 1-0 each time – both heartbreakers. But the character learned from those experiences got the Cardinal over the top. There was no better example than the effort Camille Levin displayed in setting up Noyola 's goal.
Levin was tackled and stumbled, but kept possession as she attempted another cross. This one was blocked by a defender, knocking both players down. But Levin got up first and continued her run.
With two defenders bearing down on her, she struck a second cross, this time finding Noyola, Stanford’s third consecutive Hermann Trophy winner as college soccer’s best player, who wide open at the far post for the winner.
Stanford would advance to five consecutive College Cups (soccer’s final four) and reach fantastic heights with a 73-match home unbeaten streak and 44-match conference winning streak spanning from 2008-13. The home unbeaten streak was on its sixth season and was the second-longest in NCAA Division I history and the conference winning streak was the third-longest.
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More highlights from 2011-12:
• Stanford won its second consecutive NCAA women’s water polo title by beating USC, 6-4, in the final. Kiley Neushul scored 58 goals and won the Peter J. Cutino Award as the nation’s top player.
• Stanford reached the NCAA Super Regionals in baseball for the second consecutive season, paced the All-America effort of right-hander Mark Appel (10-2, 2.56).
• The men’s basketball team captured its third national tournament title when it routed Minnesota, 71-51 at Madison Square Garden to win the NIT.
• Behind the play of All-America sisters Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford reached the NCAA Final Four for the fifth consecutive season and claimed its sixth consecutive Pac-12 championship.
• Led by NCAA runner-up Chris Derrick, who finished among the top five all four years, Stanford placed fifth nationally in men’s cross country.
• Turner Caldwell was NCAA runner-up in men’s foil while leading the Cardinal fencers to 10th at the NCAA championships.
• Patrick Rodgers became the first Cardinal since Tiger Woods to win his first collegiate tournament.
• Eddie Penev collected NCAA men’s gymnastics individual titles on floor exercise and vault.
• The women’s gymnastics team earned its highest score ever in NCAA competition, scoring 197.500 to place fourth at the Super Six, and freshman Samantha Shapiro was the NCAA runner-up on the uneven bars.
• Stanford won its third consecutive IRA women’s lightweight rowing championship.
• The Cardinal sailing team placed eighth at nationals in both coed and team racing.
• Stanford reached the 40-victory mark for the 13th time under coach John Rittman and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the 15th consecutive season, with Ashley Hansen named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
• Stanford finished seventh in the Howe Cup, the national tournament for squash.
• Kristian Ipsen won an NCAA title in 3-meter diving.
• During its final season under Hall of Fame coach Skip Kenney, Stanford was third at the NCAA men’s swimming and diving championships and won its 31st consecutive conference title. Chad LaTourette set American and school records in the 1,650-yard freestyle and was second at the NCAA’s.
• Andi Murez, Maddy Schaefer, Betsy Webb, Sam Woodward teamed for a pair of NCAA titles in the 200 and 400 free relays.
• Amaechi Morton won the NCAA title in the 400-meter hurdles in school-record time and Chris Derrick set an American collegiate record in the 10,000, an event in which he was the NCAA runner-up.
• Senior libero Erik Shoji became the first player in the history of AVCA All-America selections to earn four first-time honors.
• Stanford earned its 31st consecutive NCAA tournament appearance in women’s volleyball.
• Nicole Gibbs won the NCAA singles crown in women’s tennis and teamed with Mallory Burdette to win doubles.
• Nick Amuchastegui reached his second consecutive 174-pound NCAA final, becoming the first Stanford wrestler to advance to the finals twice.
The Final Count:
1) Stanford, 1,448.25
2) Florida, 1,314
3) UCLA, 1,142.75
4) Ohio State, 1,104.25
5) Florida State, 1,061
Stanford’s Top Scoring Teams:
1 (tie), Women’s soccer, women’s water polo, 100 points each; 3, men’s swimming and diving, 85; 4, women’s basketball, 83; 5 (tie), women’s gymnastics, women’s swimming and diving, 80 each.
Directors' Cup No. 1: 1994-95
Directors' Cup No. 2: 1995-96
Directors' Cup No. 3: 1996-97
Directors' Cup No. 4: 1997-98
Directors' Cup No. 5: 1998-99
Directors' Cup No. 6: 1999-2000
Directors' Cup No. 7: 2000-01
Directors' Cup No. 8: 2001-02
Directors' Cup No. 9: 2002-03
Directors' Cup No. 10: 2003-04
Directors' Cup No. 11: 2004-05
Directors' Cup No. 12: 2005-06