Feature: Coaches And Players Reflect On The Amazing Streak That Was

June 1, 2007

By Jack Salisbury
The Stanford Daily

June 1, 2007

Stanford, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- January 18, 1974 is one of the more famous days in college athletic history. On that day, UCLA basketball suffered a stunning loss to Notre Dame, ending its epic 88-game winning streak. It's a day that still resonates for many - the mythical Bruins had finally been toppled by the Fighting Irish.

February 3, 2007 is a date that doesn't stick out as much in NCAA history. On this day, Stanford women's tennis suffered its first loss since 2003 in a 4-3 match to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. What many people didn't know, though, was that the loss ended an 89-match winning streak - one up on John Wooden's legendary Bruins - built in just over three years.

89 wins in a row.

Looking back on it, it's almost hard to fathom.

The Cardinal concluded this past season 24-2 and made it to the NCAA Championship semifinals. But Stanford's real crowning glory this year was its final tally of 89 wins a row, dating back to its loss in the 2003 NCAA title game to Florida.

The streak might just be the greatest ever in college athletics, but the NCAA does not keep an official record of the most consecutive wins by a team for various reasons: ties, disparities between divisions and differences in the way that sports are recorded, to name a few.

Nor is 89 wins definitively the most. Other programs, like North Carolina's women's soccer team, have streaks that extend into the triple digits. The Tar Heels tied in many games, though, while Stanford did not, so gauging a streak solely on its numerical value isn't all that telling.

But in any case, the Cardinal's streak doesn't need a record to validate itself. Led by head coach Lele Forood and players such as Alice Barnes '06, Amber Liu '06 and current seniors Theresa Logar and Anne Yelsey (Liu and Barnes were with the team for all but three of the 89 wins, while Yelsey and Logar were with the team in all of them), Stanford's win streak included plenty of its own highlights.

Only two of the matches were 4-3 decisions. That's how dominant the Cardinal was.

Twenty-seven of the victories were 7-0 sweeps. Another 18 were 6-1 decisions.

During the streak, the Cardinal captured three national titles. Forood brought her personal total to five, while upping the school's total to 15. The 10 other titles were all won by Frank Brennan, father to current assistant coach Frankie Jr.

Over the course of the streak, Stanford saw 44 home wins and 40 wins against top-25 competition.

The numbers could leave someone speechless, but the question ultimately arises: 'How did they do it?'

Playing significant roles in the streak, Forood, Yelsey and assistant coach Frankie Brennan had their thoughts on the subject.

'When you have a streak that long, it's a lot of things,' Forood said. 'Luck was certainly a part of it, because you have to stay relatively healthy. It was a combination of talent, desire, work ethic, coaching and luck. Everything played a role.'

'I think it was a mentality,' said Yelsey, the senior co-captain. 'I think it was the attitude that the older girls projected onto the team. The coaches kind of approached the atmosphere with that idea.

'Coming in as a freshman you took it to heart and believed it,' she continued. 'You believed that we should win all the time.'

'To stay healthy the way we did for three years was great,' Brennan added. 'That was a big part of it: the depth of our team - toughness, too.'

An overarching theme during the streak was the team's reluctance to talk about it. Business-like as always, the focus was never on keeping up the run.

'It never got talked about until this year,' Forood said. 'It wasn't the focal point of our seasons at any point. It was about winning in order to play for the championships.'

'During the streak no one really wanted to talk about it,' Yelsey said.

'Because we didn't bring a lot of attention to it, the girls couldn't read too much into it,' Brennan explained. 'Some of them were aware of it, and some of them weren't. We all talked to someone at some point, though.'

With the season over, though, the Cardinal now has a chance to reflect on what it accomplished. After not talking about it for years, Forood, Yelsey and Brennan were all happy to share their sentiments on the monumental streak.

'It's always wonderful to be part of an amazing accomplishment by a lot of people,' Forood said. 'It took a lot of people to make this happen.'

'It's exciting to me because of the fact that we were able to win three team titles during that run,' Brennan said. 'We had some really great kids and players - not only talent-wise, but personality-wise. Being on that journey with a good group of student athletes and with Lele, I think that made it extremely enjoyable.'

Though Forood and Brennan will have further opportunities to bring the streak back to life (the Cardinal went 19-0 up until the 4-2 loss to UCLA), Yelsey, as a senior leaving the Farm after four years and 110 team wins, will have to keep the streak alive in memory.

'It's something that we're all going to have...we realize that it was something special and we're all happy to be a part of it,' she said. 'It was wonderful to play for a team that never expected to lose, that had all this confidence and belief [in itself].

'It was special,' Yelsey added. 'There's no other way to describe it.'

(C) 2007 The Stanford Daily via CSTV U-WIRE

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