June 28, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. -
Defining moments and outstanding individual and team performances characterized an unforgettable 2010-11 for Stanford athletics, and resulted in the school's 17th consecutive Learfield Sports Directors' Cup and the first women's Capitol One Cup.
Gostanford.com begins a three-part series highlighting Stanford's Great Games, Great Moments, and Great Performances from 2010-11.
Today: Great Games (in chronological order)
Women's volleyball (Sept. 11, 2010): Streakbusters
Cassidy Lichtman put the punctuation on Stanford's historic victory over Penn State by drilling the match-point kill into the O'Connell Center floor, putting a resounding end to the Nittany Lions' NCAA record 109-match winning streak. Stanford's 28-26, 25-12, 25-18 sweep at the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic in Gainesville, Fla., was highlighted by Alix Klineman's 16 kills and 10 digs. Penn State had not lost since Sept. 15, 2007, against Stanford in New Haven, Conn. Since that result, however, Penn State beat Stanford in consecutive NCAA championship matches, in 2007 and 2008.
Men's water polo (Oct. 9, 2010): Turning point
Stanford was coming off a rough stretch and dropped in the rankings when it faced top-ranked and undefeated USC. Not only were the Trojans on an 18-game winning streak, but they had beaten Stanford 17 consecutive times. Yet in the span of just over an hour, Stanford snapped out of its funk, riding the emotions of a boisterous home crowd and an inspired defensive effort, led by goalie Brian Pingree, to earn a 5-3 upset. USC was averaging 15 goals a game, but Pingree and the Cardinal challenged every shot, blocking and deflecting attempts, making steals and generally harassing the USC offense. Jeffrey Schwimer scored two early goals to help Stanford mount a 5-1 lead. Over the final six minutes, Stanford held off a furious USC rally, culminating with Pingree's penalty-shot save with two seconds left that created a pandemonium among Cardinal fans.
Football (Oct. 9, 2010): No time left
Nate Whitaker kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired to lift Stanford to a 37-35 victory over USC before a standing-room only crowd of 51,067 at Stanford Stadium. Whitaker's winning field goal culminated a seven-play, 62-yard scoring drive over the last 1:02. The teams never were separated by more than seven points in a game in which offenses combined for 976 yards. The game sparked an eight-game Stanford winning streak that culminated in an Orange Bowl triumph over Virginia Tech. One can make the case that Whitaker's field goal was one of the most significant plays in Stanford football history. After all, how would Stanford's season be remembered if he missed?
Women's basketball (Dec. 30, 2010): Record breaker
Connecticut had just broken UCLA's 88-game winning streak, which was the college basketball record among men and women, when the Huskies traveled to Stanford in a game that had the potential end the historic streak. A second-half rally had given Connecticut a 53-47 victory over Stanford in the 2010 NCAA title game, and UConn's most recent loss had been to the Cardinal, in the 2008 NCAA semifinals. Sure enough, UConn discovered that 90 was enough - Stanford made sure of that with a 71-59 nationally-televised victory. Jeanette Pohlen turned in the performance of her career with 31 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the victory, while Stanford also got key contributions from Nnemkadi Ogwumike (12 points, six rebounds), Kayla Pedersen (eight points, 11 rebounds) and freshman Chiney Ogwumike, who took on the task of guarding two-time national player of the year Maya Moore and held the superstar to just 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting. As the final seconds ticked away, the Cardinal celebrated in a pile on the court while the sellout crowd of 7,329 shook Maples Pavilion with stomping, clapping and cheering. Riding a 51-game home winning streak entering the contest, the message sent to the Huskies was loud and clear: Not in our house.
Football: (Jan. 3, 2010): BCS blowout
John Elway flashed his familiar grin and Jim Harbaugh gave a jubilant shout from the sideline as Andrew Luck sprinted up the field to join an end zone celebration. Nearly a quarter remained in the Orange Bowl, but Stanford was on the way to its first bowl victory in 14 years. And it was a blowout. Luck threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns to lead Stanford past Virginia Tech, 40-12, and cap a 12-1 season for a Cardinal team that was only four years removed from 1-11. Stanford exploded for 27 second-half points, and Luck completed 18 of 23 passes, including six passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns to tight end Coby Fleener. Linebacker Shayne Skov had 12 tackles, including four for losses and three sacks to lead a defensive surge that dropped dangerous Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor for 70 yards in losses and limited the Hokies to 66 yards rushing. Perhaps the result shouldn't have been surprising given that Stanford averaged 40.3 points per game and didn't allow more than 17 over the final six games of the season.
Men's basketball (Jan. 13, 2011): Signature win
Strong defensive play proved to be the difference in Stanford's signature victory of the season: a 58-56 upset of No. 17 Washington. The Huskies entered the game boasting a high-octane offense averaging 88.9 points while shooting 49.1 percent. Meanwhile, Stanford's early-season success was due to a stout defense allowing only 60.0 points. In a classic "offense vs. defense" battle, Stanford prevailed. In addition to being held almost 30 points below its average, Washington's 56 points and 36.2 percent shooting were season-lows and the Huskies committed 15 turnovers. Josh Owens led three Cardinal players in double figures, with 14 points.
Men's swimming (Feb. 19, 2011): The Big Swim
No. 2-ranked Stanford closed out a perfect dual season, knocking off No. 1-ranked and eventual national champion Cal, 124.5-118.5 in Berkeley. The result was not ensured until Stanford earned first- and third-place finishes in the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay. Austin Staab, who missed the 2010 championship season because of personal reasons, touched the wall (2:53.97) eight hundredths ahead of Cal's Nathan Adrian (2:54.05) for the victory. Stanford got a distance sweep from Chad La Tourette and a team top-three sweep in the 1- and 3-meter diving events to pile up valuable points. Stanford would go on to beat the Bears again at the Pac-10 Championships, giving the Cardinal its 30th consecutive conference men's title.
Men's volleyball (Feb. 26, 2011): Rally time
Stanford wasn't just two points from losing to UC Santa Barbara, but two points from being swept. But those two points never came. Behind Brad Lawson's 25 kills and .564 hitting, Stanford pulled out a 21-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-10 victory in a dramatic Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match at Maples Pavilion. For perspective, turnarounds from two-set deficits don't happen often -- Stanford had done it only twice in seven seasons, and not for two years. In the momentum-changing third set that featured 17 ties and five lead changes, the teams were locked at 23-23 with UCSB serving when a Stanford scramble resulted in a kill by Spencer McLachlin. The senior captain immediately followed by joining freshman Denny Falls on a set-point block, keeping the Cardinal alive and igniting the rally.
Women's lacrosse (May 1, 2011): Comeback for the ages
To say that Stanford didn't come to play might be applicable in describing the Cardinal's start to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament championship game. Despite an undefeated conference record, Stanford fell behind Oregon by a shocking 7-0 score after only 14 minutes, 32 seconds in Moraga. Only a victory would guarantee an NCAA berth and Stanford, creating even more urgency for the trailing Cardinal. Emilie Boeri got the first goal back and Stanford began to chip away at the deficit, fainlly taking its first lead, at 11-10 with 6:24 left in the game on a score from Leslie Foard. Freshman Lyndsey Munoz was inserted into goal after the 7-0 deficit, went on to have a spectacular game, allowing just three goals in the final 45 minutes and was named as the tournament MVP. It was the seventh consecutive MPSF title for the Cardinal.
Softball (May 13, 2011): Power surge
Sarah Hassman, a junior, hit her first collegiate home run to spark a three-homer Stanford power surge against Arizona State, in a 6-1 victory over the eventual national champions - on the road. Hassman's was a two-run shot in the third inning and begat another two-run shot in the same inning, by Jenna Rich. Ashley Hansen, the eventual national player of the year, closed the scoring with a solo shot in the seventh.
Women's water polo (May 15, 2011): Title time
Stanford had not won a national championship for nine years when it faced rival Cal in the NCAA championship game in Ann Arbor, Mich., but the Cardinal proved that there was no one better with a convincing 9-5 victory to cap a 28-1 season. Sophomore Annika Dries scored five goals for the Cardinal and goalie Amber Oland made 11 saves. Stanford led 4-1 at the half and then broke the game open with four goals in the third period to take a commanding 8-4 advantage into the fourth. There, the defense dug in and held California to just one goal, setting up for the celebratory team leap into the pool as the clock hit zero and the national title returned to The Farm.
Men's tennis (May 21, 2011): Near upset
Virginia entered the NCAA quarterfinal against Stanford as the nation's only undefeated squad, at 32-0, but nearly were dropped by the Cardinal in a massive upset. Stanford became the first opponent to secure three points against the Cavaliers all season, before dropping a 4-3 decision in a team contest that was decided in the final match on the court. Trailing 3-2, the Cardinal had already booked first-set wins in two remaining matches and was on the brink of the upset before a crowd of 2,660 at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium. But with the contest deadlocked at 3-3, Sanam Singh edged Alex Clayton 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a battle of seniors at the No. 3 position to secure the win for the Cavaliers.
Baseball (June 4, 2010): Titanic win
A sixth-inning home run by Stephen Piscotty supported the combined two-hit pitching of Jordan Pries and Chris Reed to give Stanford a vital 1-0 victory over host Cal State Fullerton that helped catapult the Cardinal into the NCAA Super Regionals. With every pitch having the potential to change a game, Pries allowed only singles in the fifth and eighth while going 7 2/3 innings. Pries got help from leftfielder Tyler Gaffney, whose dive robbed Fullerton of a hit and the potential go-ahead run. Stanford followed with a victory over Illinois to capture the four-team Fullerton regional.