Stanford thrashes UCLA to reach Women's College Cup final in its own backyard

Just 16 miles from its campus, Stanford will face North Carolina in the Women's College Cup final at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California, on Sunday thanks to a 4-1 thrashing of UCLA on Friday that featured a hat trick from sophomore Sophia Smith.

No doubt the Bruins knew they were in for a tough one, not just because of Stanford's home advantage, which was mitigated by the contingent of UCLA fans among the 7,699. The Cardinal had won its last 17 games with a 72-7 goal difference and 13 shutouts.

UCLA was riding high as well. It earned its trip to San Jose with a 4-0 quarterfinal win over defending champion Florida State. That victory was the Bruins' third straight shutout while outscoring tournament foes 15-1.

When Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer couldn't reach Chloe Castaneda's shot in the 7th minute, it looked brighter for the Bruins.

But the Cardinal reacted swiftly. Smith, who suffered a broken leg halfway through the 2018 season, took less than three minutes to equalize. Carly Malatskey scored the go-ahead goal in the 21st, and Smith scored her 16th and 17th goals of the season in the 31st and 52nd minutes.

“I thought it was a great team performance," said Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe. "We started a little slow and conceded a goal. We weren’t happy about that, but I thought we responded with great character. Full credit to the squad. I thought they played really, really well throughout against a strong UCLA team.”

In 2017, Stanford beat UCLA, 3-2, in the College Cup final in Orlando and in this year's regular season prevailed 1-0.

"Sophia Smith had a day," said UCLA coach Amanda Cromwell. "She is someone that in the last game wasn’t that much of a factor against us. They had a game-plan to keep her out wide and try to exploit our three-back. We just didn’t defend as well as we could have in some critical moments. It’s hard to chase a game like that."

In the 43rd minute, Mia Fishel's penalty kick was saved by Meyer to keep it 3-1.

“Obviously, we wished we had a better effort overall, just for the game of soccer in general," Cromwell said. "You always want to offer something more in the liking of how we’ve been playing, and tonight was an off-game for us. It didn’t reflect our season."

For its part, Stanford has a chance to win its third national title, after 2017 in Florida and 2011, when it prevailed over Duke in the Georgia-hosted College Cup. This time it will be home game.

Dec. 6 in San Jose, Calif.
Stanford 4 UCLA 1. Goals: Smith 9, 31, 52, Malatskey 21; Castaneda 7.
Stanford -- Meyer, Girma, Haley, Briede, Malatskey, Smith, Dom, Wesley, Hiatt, Macario, Pickett. Subs: Enge, Harter, Goad, Tran, Rubinstein, Greubel, Caetano-Ferrara.
UCLA -- Micah, Sanchez, Castaneda, McCullough, Rodriguez, Fishel, Villacorta, Parker, Sheehan, Micah, Fleming. Subs: Lowe, Faulkner, Dunphy, Reyes, Trevithick.
Att.: 7,699.

3 comments about "Stanford thrashes UCLA to reach Women's College Cup final in its own backyard".
  1. frank schoon, December 7, 2019 at 3:02 p.m.

    This game was a little better played. The 3-5-2 system played by NC and UCLA is not conducive to ball movement not nice triangles( which you won't see anyway). I find many of passes given were all verical. If you note everytime a UCLA  pass comes from out of the backfield it always to another UCLA player further upfield with her backfacing downfield. This has the effect of not only slowing down the game, but also the necessary vision for attacking options. Futhermore the UCLA players were not prepared with their back facing downfield to one-touch it to oncoming 3rd players....They played too static. 

    Stanford playing 4-3-3 had better ball movement and they had a Brazilian controller at midfield. In this system Stanford was able to use their midfielders unlike UCLA and NC who played 352. 
    By having only a 3 man backline UCLA was forced to pass long upfield which is so predictable to defend against. As a result UCLA's  5 midfielders who were not being used or rather bypassed for all the balls kicked from the backline going straight up to the attackers thus nullifyingt their own 5-man midfield.

     Why would any girls college team play a 352 when you know the passing ability at this level is so uncertain, for after one or two passes it is ball loss resulting causing the midfield to be overemployed. I would placed one of the midfielders on the wing resulting in quicker ballmovement due to  letting the ball do the running not the player and drop another midfielder to the backline as an upcoming attacker which gives another attacking options. A team becomes to 'heavy' or selfcontained at midfield when playing with 5.

     I did like the player Sanchez #2 from UCLA, I hope she's called up to the National Team. I like her ball handling skills and her ball movement and she's very versatile. I also like the Wheaton player, the attacker from Washington State as well as the centerback in the middle of the 3man backline of NC and I wish we could have #21 the Canadian player from UCLA...

  2. Jacob Wang, December 7, 2019 at 3:15 p.m.

    What can Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott do to add a 1 in front of the 7 in the attendance figure?

  3. R2 Dad, December 9, 2019 at 10:34 a.m.

    Lots of shots the keepers get to but are unable to keep out. A dominant keeper would seem to be the #1 signing needed, after watching these highlights.

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