Houston Sports: Bryce Marion, A Champion Once Again


Yesterday, Houston’s Bryce Marion and the Stanford Cardinals did what no team had done since the 2004 Indiana Hoosiers.

Yesterday, Houston’s Bryce Marion and the Stanford Cardinals did what no team had done since the 2004 Indiana Hoosiers.

What was so notable?

Marion and his teammates won their second consecutive national soccer title.

The Stanford Cardinals became just the fourth team in NCAA soccer history to accomplish such a feat.

Who were the others?

None other than Saint Louis University and the University of San Francisco.

The penalty kick shoot-out win over second-ranked Wake Forest was just the sixth in NCAA history to be decided in such dramatic fashion.

The Demon Deacons had entered the match looking to avenge a season ending loss to Stanford in the quarterfinal round of 2015.

They came within inches of achieving that on Sunday before Cardinal keeper Andrew Epstein changed the tide.

Epstein’s two dramatic penalty kick saves gave Stanford its fifth consecutive shutout dating back to last year’s College Cup run.

Stanford and Wake had played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer before transitioning to the shootout phase.

Marion, a 2014 graduate of Cypress Ranch High, logged 77 minutes in his 23rd start of the season.

He was in the queue, eagerly awaiting his turn at a penalty should he be needed.

The opportunity never came as midfielder Sam Werner netted the game-winner setting the stage for Epstein.

Marion broke into the Cardinals’ lineup as a starter in the 2016 season opener.

Marion was as cool as a cucumber on the pitch just as he has been anywhere he has lived — that would include stops Louisiana, Alaska, Norway in addition to Houston.

Many will remember Marion, an All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention notable this season, as he and his Cy Ranch teammates dropped a heartbreaking, 1-0 regional quarterfinal match loss in the 2014 Texas high school playoffs.

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Before moving on to Stanford, Marion was also a part of the Houston Dynamo Academy.

Considered more of a facilitator, the junior midfielder has been used wide this season to take have advantage of his speed and ability to spread defenses.

Marion tallied a goal and four assists in his first full season as a starter for Stanford.

On defense, he helped Stanford continue its run of shutouts in NCAA tournament play that now rests at 622 minutes on the season.

Wake Forest’s Ian Harkes was the last to score on Epstein.

Epstein, who secured last season’s win over Wake Forest in the quarterfinal round and subsequent championship, was needed this season to be the hero.

After Tomas Hilliard-Arce missed his penalty kick, Wake Forest forward Jon Bakero converted his to give the Demon Deacons the lead in the shootout.

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First he stopped Hayden Partain and then Brad Dunwell in between a penalty kick conversion from red-shirt sophomore midfielder Sam Werner.

Epstein’s heroics made Marion and Stanford the first team since Wisconsin in 1995 to not allow a goal in tournament play on its way to winning a national championship.

The game was the sixth national championship to go to penalty kicks and the first since Virginia beat UCLA in 2014.

Beginning 0-3-1, the Stanford Cardinals finished with a 15-0-4 run ensuring Marion is a national champion once more.