Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - July 16, 2010

Stanford women's athletics honored as No. 1 in nation

When Stanford University won its 16th straight Directors' Cup award this season for having the nation's best overall athletics program, there was one likely assumption — that either the men's or women's program was perhaps the best in the land.

That was confirmed on Wednesday when Stanford women's athletics was honored at the ESPY Awards with the Capitol One Award, recognizing the Cardinal as the top women's athletic program in the nation.

Stanford captured the women's honor while Duke University took the award for the top men's athletic program.

The award was accepted by Stanford women's basketball All-American Nnemkadi Ogwumike in a backstage presentation at the ESPYs in Los Angeles.

Stanford's women's athletics teams boasted one of the top showings of all collegiate women's programs in the nation. Two Cardinal teams, women's tennis and women's lightweight rowing (varsity eight), captured national championships, while five additional teams (basketball, soccer, swimming, synchronized swimming and water polo) turned in runner-up finishes.

On an individual level, swimmers Julia Smit (200 IM, 400 IM, 400 free relay) and Elaine Breeden (100 fly, 200 fly) were multi-NCAA individual championship winners, while swimmers Kate Dwelley, Betsy Webb and Sam Woodward (400 free relay), the tennis doubles team of Hilary Barte and Lindsay Burdette and women's gymnast Carly Janiga (uneven bars) all captured individual national titles, as well.

Soccer standout Kelley O'Hara took home three different National Player of the Year honors, sharing the Top Drawer Soccer honor with Stanford teammate Christen Press.

Overall, six Stanford female student-athletes were also named their conference's player of the year, and 49 earned All-America honors.

Stanford appears in good shape to win the award again next year following Wednesday's announcement that incoming basketball freshman Chiney Ogwumike was named the Gatorade national high school athlete of the year.

Ogwumike averaged 22.9 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.1 blocks last season for Cy-Fair High in Cypress, Texas. She led the 36-1 Bobcats to the state Class 5A state championship. She graduated third in her class with a 3.45 GPA.

At Stanford, Ogwumike will team with her sister Nneka, the defending Pac-10 Player of the Year.

They were among 12 finalists for the awards that recognize athletic achievements, academic excellence and character.

Women's field hockey

Tara Danielson has been named head coach of the women's field hockey team. Danielson becomes the sixth head coach in the history of the program and replaces Lesley Irvine, who accepted a position as Associate Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator at Bowling Green State University last month after seven years at the helm.

In addition to enjoying an extensive international playing career, Danielson has developed a reputation as a pioneer within the field hockey community through her efforts on the developmental level while implementing several successful outreach programs.

Stanford (17-5, 5-1 NorPac) is coming off its best season in program history in 2009, establishing a school record with 17 victories. The Cardinal captured the NorPac Tournament championship for the third straight season and remained a fixture in the national rankings for more than two months.

Soccer

Stanford's Rachel Quon, Teresa Noyola and Courtney Verloo all saw action for the U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team as it opened play in the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup with a 1-1 deadlock with Ghana on Wednesday in Dresden, Germany.

Team USA forward Sydney Leroux scored in the 70th minute to answer an early goal from the Africans. Leroux's goal came after Noyola stripped a Ghana player in midfield and sent a through ball to Maya Hayes on a long break-away into the right side of the penalty area. Hayes raced at the 'keeper and then slipped a pass square to Leroux, who slid to knock the ball into the open net from just inside the six-yard box.

Quon started for the USA with Noyola and Verloo subbing in. The United States is now tied with Ghana for second place in Group D behind the Korea Republic, which trounced Switzerland 4-0 in the other group.

The USA will play Switzerland on Saturday and Korea next Wednesday at Rudolf-Harbig Stadium.

In Omaha, Neb., Stanford grads Nicole Barnhart, Rachel Buehler and Kelley O'Hara all started for the U.S. Women's National Team during its 1-1 deadlock with Sweden in an international friendly soccer match on a hot, muggy Tuesday night in front of 6,493 fans. The two-match series with Sweden concludes Saturday with a showdown in East Hartford, Conn.

Rowing

Three Stanford women rowers have been named to the 2010 U.S. Under-23 National Team roster — Lindsay Meyer, Grace Luczak and Julie Smith. The trio will compete at the World Rowing Under-23 Championships scheduled for July 22-25 in Brest, Belarus.

The three are all two-year members of the Stanford I Eight, and were all part of the boat that captured the I Eight NCAA Championship and helped Stanford to its first-ever team NCAA title in 2009.

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