Honor Roll No. 9: Alina Garciamendez

Stanford's 94-4-4 overall record (40-0 in conference play) during her career just about says it all. Alina Garciamendez will forever be part of Cardinal soccer lore, and her efforts are celebrated in our Honor Roll.

In an April 25 article, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2012-‘13 school-year.

The criteria are as follows:

Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well.

We are now releasing the 10 winners of this award, one by one. Our previously announced members of the Honor Roll are baseball's Mark Appel, field hockey's Becky Dru, swimmer David Nolan, distance runner Kathy Kroeger, diver Kristian Ipsen, tennis' Nicole Gibbs, water polo's Melissa Seidemann and gymnast Eddie Penev. Our ninth announced member of The Bootleg's 2012-2013 Honor Roll is soccer's Alina Garciamendez.

In fairness, this should be a three-person award, with women's soccer graduating three standouts from a class that went 94-4-4 overall, 52-0-1 at home and an incredible 40-0-0 in conference. The class reached the College Cup (Final Four) all four years, won a national title in 2011 and, somewhat redundantly given the record, won the Pac-10/12 all four years.

It was a ten-woman class with three All-Stars:

  • Mariah Nogueira was a two-time All-American, has the fourth-most starts in school history (95 over four years), was the Pac-12's Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women's soccer, and a senior CLASS award finalist (that thing Greg Gumbel promotes incessantly during the men's basketball tournament).
  • Rachel Quon has the third-most starts in school history (96 over three years), was All-Conference all four years, three years on the First Team, and, as a senior, was a First Team All-American and semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy, the sport's Heisman. It's an incredible testament to Stanford's depth that neither Quon nor Nogueira make our Honor Roll, but the efforts of that duo and the rest of an incredible senior class should be recognized.

Instead, our ninth Honor Roll awardee is Alina Garciamendez. Like Quon and Nogueira, Garciamendez was a team captain this season. Garciamendez has also captained the squad since her sophomore year, the season the Cardinal won the national crown. Not bad for leadership.

Stanford has played 102 matches since Garciamendez came to Stanford in 2009. In a Ripken-eqsue streak, Garciamendez started all 102 of those games. Not bad for consistency. Gaudy stats are harder to come by – the plight of offensive linemen and defenders everywhere – but consider that Stanford posted shutouts in 57 percent of Garciamendez's career starts at center defense (58 of 102).

While she's obviously been a superlative soccer player for years, Garciamendez also steadily grew as a player while on the Farm. She was a third-team All-American as a sophomore, a second-team All-American as a junior and then, as a senior, a Hermann semifinalist and on the first All-American team. Much of her evolution came on the offensive end, as Garciamendez scored six of her eight career goals as a senior. Two of those goals were absolutely clutch: an 89th-minute strike against Boston University and an overtime winner against USC were both last-minute differences in 1-0 games.

Garciamendez was on the U.S. national team track before a high school injury. Instead of letting the setback define her though, she did what any Stanford entrepreneur would do: she found another way. Here, the United States' loss was Mexico's gain, as Garciamendez started for the Mexican side in the 2011 Women's World Cup and their unsuccessful run at qualification for London the next year. She never missed a game for Stanford or Mexico throughout these runs, flying back and forth between the Bay and Cancun to make the logistics work. To top it off, she has collected cleats with her brother to donate to underprivileged children in Mexico (Stanford Athletics reports). Coach Paul Ratcliffe will have one of the toughest coaching jobs of his career this fall, as he seeks to replace Garciamendez and the rest of her 10-woman class while guiding the Card to a sixth-straight Final Four. Now, though, we appreciate Garciamendez and the rest of her class for their run, and the legacy they will leave behind.


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