2011 was finally Stanford's year. They have only suffered four losses in the last four years. The previous three years falling in the final four each time. This year Stanford finished the deal.
An early second half goal would be the difference as Stanford claimed their fist womens soccer national title in a 1-0 victory against Duke. Noyola scored in the 53rd minute after Camille Levin won a ball at the goal line about eight yards right of the goal. She crossed to the far post, where Noyola headed it into the net.
"It's absolutely fitting," said Noyola, who was the College Cup MVP after collecting a goal and an assist in the final two games. "I've played with Cami since we were 14 or 15, and I knew from the first time that I played with her I wanted to play with this girl for as long as I can."
Duke (22-4-1) created enough scoring opportunities down the stretch to make Stanford sweat on a cool, mostly cloudy afternoon at the KSU Soccer Stadium near Atlanta.
Duke fans in the crowd of 9,241 howled when Stanford's Kendall Romine tackled forward Mollie Pathman just inside the penalty box in the 70th minute, but no whistle came.
Laura Weinburg sailed a shot wide two minutes later for Duke. Forward Kelly Cobb then had a play on a loose ball that was so close to the top of the box that Stanford goalkeeper Emily Oliver was afraid to use her hands.
"I jumped up, and in the air I knew I was near the (penalty box line) so I blocked it with my body," Oliver said. "I just tried to get it out of her path."
The Blue Devils' last solid chance came when Kaitlyn Kerr sizzled a line drive from about 28 yards in the 78th minute that Oliver tipped over the cross bar.
"That was a big-time save," Duke coach Robbie Church said. "I thought that was in."
Stanford (25-0-1) carried the action in the first half with seven shots, three on goal, while Oliver did not have to make a save on the Blue Devils' five wild shots. The Blue Devils outshot Stanford 9-5 in the second half. Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe, who traveled all over to recruit his seniors as Noyola and Taylor grew up in the shadows of Stanford's campus while Levin is from Los Angeles and Zurmuhlen is from Walpole, NH, seemed proud and relieved.
"The last 20 minutes were the longest I've encountered in many, many years," he said. "This team has been incredible, and showed such character to have all those setbacks and then come back and fight ... to the national championship."