Duke & Stanford Set For Sunday’s NCAA Women's College Cup Final

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After pounding  ACC tournament champion Florida State 3-0 on Friday night in the first semifinal of the College Cup, Stanford has a chance to play once again for the national title. 

The Cardinal advanced to soccer’s version of the Final Four by completing its third straight unbeaten season, a feat that puts them in the same league as the great North Carolina teams with Mia Hamm in the early 1990s. But top-ranked Stanford has never won a national championship  – and they hope to change that fact this year. They’ve come close, appearing in the College Cup for the past three years and losing 1-0 in the final game the last two years.

The Cardinal will play Duke, which beat Wake Forest 4-1 in the second semifinal Friday night, in Sunday’s championship.

In the Stanford v FSU match,  Cardinal forward and freshman phenom Chioma Ubogagu ricocheted a shot off FSU goalie Kelsey Wys’ leg from about 10 yards for Stanford’s first goal in the 22nd minute for a 1-0 lead.

NCAA Soccer Image Credit PrettyTough.com

About two minutes later, Ubogagu out-ran a Seminoles defender down the left flank and served a ball into the penalty box that midfielder Kristy Zurmuhlen slid past Wys at the near post for a 2-0 edge.

Stanford defender Alina Garciamendez finished the scoring in the 64th minute, going up to head a long serve into the box past Wys to make it 3-0.

Pressing early to try to crack Stanford’s defense, No. 9 FSU (18-7-1) produced numerous opportunities early, but failed to convert. Stanford goalie Emily Oliver earned her 11th shutout with six saves, including a few dives to stop shots.

The No. 3 Blue Devils (22-3-1) will also play for their first title after their defeat of the No. 6 Demon Deacons (18-4-4). ACC rivals Duke and Wake Forest, who often vie for the same players during recruiting season,  faced off for the third time this season.

In the 43rd minute, defender Kim DeCesare slammed a loose ball in the penalty box past goalie Aubrey Bledsoe, triggering an onslaught on Wake Forest, which hadn’t given up four goals since the 2009 season.

Duke  played nervous early, but grew stronger over the course of the first half. Forward Mollie Pathman added two goals in the second half, spearing home a deflected shot in the 51st minute for a 2-0 lead and then scoring on a penalty kick in the 58th. Pathman’s second goal answered a free-kick goal by Wake Forest forward Rachel Nuzzolese less than a minute earlier.

Both the Blue Devils and the Cardinal now stand 90 minutes from their first national championship

The Kennesaw State stadium in suburban Atlanta was filled  Friday night  with announced attendance 9,253. It was the biggest event yet held in the $6.5 million stadium, which opened in 2010 and is a symbol of the school’s progress in athletics.

I'm personally rooting for Stanford - based on their record and the fact that I'm a Californian. Regardless of what coast you live on, or who you want to take home the trophy, be sure to catch the action Sunday at 1:00 EST on ESPNU.




dare to dream

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