Women's College Cup: Stanford won't be denied in thrilling final

The Women's College Cup final between Pac-12 rivals Stanford and UCLA lived up to its billing, producing the most exciting NCAA Division I women's final in history.

Stanford led 2-0 at the half. The Bruins came back to tie it 2-2 before Jaye Boissiere scored in the 67th minute to give the Cardinal a 3-2 victory for its second national championship.

1. Cardinal shows resiliency after 2-0 lead evaporates.

Goals by Kyra Carusa and Andi Sullivan gave the Cardinal the 2-0 lead after 25 minutes. The first goal in the 15th minute came when Carusa pounced on a bouncing ball UCLA keeper Teagan Micah failed to catch and volleyed it into the empty net. Brazilian-born freshman Catarina Macario then fed Sullivan a precise through ball that the U.S. international slotted home to make it 2-0.

Stanford pressed to put the game away early in the first half, but Micah made a point-blank save on Boissiere's shot in the 53rd minute to keep it at 2-0. It was soon 2-2 as the Bruins scored on a penalty kick by Jessie Fleming and then Delanie Sheehan's header at the far post in the 59th minute.

But Stanford regrouped and was rewarded when Boissiere scored on a curling shot from 23 years after another piece of magic from Macario, who laid the ball off for her teammate who had been sidelined for two and half years.

The Cardinal almost added a fourth goal, but Tegan McGrady was denied when she fired a blast from distance that smashed into the far post.

“The character of this team is very strong," said Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe. "We talked about determination and resiliency, and they fought back. Jaye scored a fantastic goal. It’s difficult to come back from a situation like this but these girls wouldn’t be denied.”

2. The youthful Bruins will be back.

No team has ever come back from two goals down in the College Cup -- indeed, no game in its 36-year history has produced two or more goals by both teams -- but UCLA did it in less than five minutes.

The Bruins had played overtime against Duke on Friday and ultimately didn't have enough to match Stanford's firepower, but they showed their fight to get back in a game that looked lost.

"Obviously, the game didn’t go the way we hoped," said UCLA coach Amanda Cromwell, "didn’t get a great start with going down two goals, but I can’t say enough about our team and the fight, determination to come back and tie it up. They fought until the end. We had some chances but in the end, I don’t think we had enough in the tank to really force the issue the way we normally do with our press. The difference is it was a hot day, big field."

The Bruins will be back. They started four sophomores -- Fleming, Micah, Kaiya McCullough and Anika Rodriguez -- and four freshmen -- Karina Rodriguez, Anika Rodriguez, Olivia Athens and Ashley Sanchez.

3. One-and-done at Orlando City Stadium.

Too bad more fans weren't on hand for the final at the new Orlando City Stadium. The announced crowd of 1,938, was the lowest since 1,625 fans watched the 1989 final between North Carolina and Colorado College in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Smallest Women's College Cup final crowds:
ATT. VENUE: MATCHUP (YEAR)
700 Orlando: North Carolina-George Mason (1983)
1,000 Orlando: North Carolina-UCF (1982)
1,000 Fairfax, VA: North Carolina-Colorado College (1986)
1,625 Raleigh, NC: North Carolina-Colorado College (1989)
1,938 Orlando: Stanford-UCLA (2017)

In 2018, the Women's College Cup will return to Cary, North Carolina, and then alternate between Cary's WakeMed Soccer Park and San Jose's MLS stadium through 2021. The good news: Both venues have a history of drawing good crowds.

Dec. 3 in Orlando, Florida
Stanford 3 UCLA 2. Goals: Carusa (Macario) 15, Sullivan (Macario, Haley) 26, Boissiere (Macario) 67; Fleming pen. 55, Sheehan (A.Rodriguez, Hernandez) 59.
Stanford -- Jahansouz, McGrady, Cook, Pickett, Boissiere, Davidson, DiBiasi, Sullivan, Macario, Carusa, Haley. Subs: Briede, Kuhlmann, Goad, Tran.
UCLA -- Micah, McCullough, K.Rodriguez, Cerda, Goralski, A.Rodriguez, Villacorta, Athens, Fleming, Mace, Sanchez. Subs: Matulich, Hernandez, Dunphy, Sheehan, Winter.
Att.: 1,938.

3 comments about "Women's College Cup: Stanford won't be denied in thrilling final".
  1. Kevin Sims, December 4, 2017 at 9:58 a.m.

    NCAA baseball @ Omaha = win all around ... NCAA softball @ Oklahoma City = win all around ... NCAA Men's & Women's soccer could achieve this win by anchoring in the right place: WakeMed Park in Cary, NC has accessibility, primary facility, secondary/complementary facilities, December climate, community support, community history to create two weeks of soccer fun & frenzy ... I am convinced this location & continuity would results in regular crowds & sellouts quickly!

    Congrats to Stanford, undoubtedly the best team on the weekend! Congrats to UCLA for pushing Stanford to be their best and for showing such character in the final! Congrats to Duke & South Carolina for terrific seasons!   

  2. Ric Fonseca, December 4, 2017 at 4:25 p.m.

    OK, so the Tree won, congratulations to them.  BUT... I didn't see the entire game but I tuned in when the clock began the backward countdown (a silly and stupid NCAA rule, as opposed to the running time...) second half, saw my Lady Bruins score two on the Tree, and then a glaring Bruin defensive lapse that I hope they correct in the not too distant future.  And that was when Stanford pounced on the attack and they got into the penalty area, the Bruins were too quick to play "swarming football", that is, whenever a Tree was in the PA with the ball, two then three then four Bruins surrounded the player, thus leaving a midfielder or even defender to move into space, just exactly as they did when the Tree scored what was the winning goal.  Kudos to them, though I was going a bit crazy yelling at the tv with the hope the Bruins would hear me.  alas, while the tv pundits said that the Tree hadn't allowed two goals in previous games, yet they gave up two in a span of a little more than five minutes, there is still some home as Paul Kennedy above says it is a - UCLA - young team and will be back.  Congrats to the Stanford Tree, and to my Lady Bruins, you will remember this game and you will be back!!!  So, congrats to BOTH teams, but so sorry more people didn't see you soccer players play!!!

  3. Ric Fonseca, December 4, 2017 at 4:38 p.m.

    I do take issue with the author, PK, on his statement that UCLA did not have enough left over after defeating Duke and thus "didn't have the firepower..." to match Stanford. I don't agree with you, but as I noted above, the mistakes were pure and simple Bruin tactical errors.

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