Stanford captures its third Women's College Cup with shootout win over North Carolina

After 110 minutes of scoreless play, Stanford prevailed from the penalty spot over North Carolina to win the 2019 Women's College Cup on Sunday in San Jose, California. Neither the Cardinal nor the Tar Heels were at their best, no doubt fatigued from playing semifinals 48 hours earlier, but Stanford created the better scoring chances in a game that had few.

“It was a great battle on the field and you need a little bit of luck for PKs,” Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “It was a tough game emotionally and the momentum changed play to play.”

Sophia Smith, who scored a hat trick in Stanford's 4-1 semifinal win over UCLA, unleashed a 16-yard shot in the 34th minute that looked destined to hit the low corner of the net -- but North Carolina goalkeeper Claudia Dickey dived perfectly to pull off the game's biggest save. With two minutes left in the final overtime period, Smith banged an 11-yard shot off the crossbar. One minute before that, Dickey made another outstanding diving save, on Carly Malatskey's shot.

Stanford outshot North Carolina, 21-12, and had 14 corner kicks to North Carolina's three. But the Tar Heels' defense, led by Maycee Bell, constantly stifled Smith, Madison Haley and Catarina Macario. And after surviving the Cardinal surge following the kickoff -- four shots and three corner kicks in the first six minutes -- the Tar Heels started making it difficult for Stanford to pass out of its half.

Sloppy play plagued both teams in the second half and tenacious defense interfered with the promising forays from either side. Stanford central defender Naomi Girma should share MVP honors with Bell.

The final whistle blew after a second half in which Stanford outshot the Tar Heels, 12-5, but the three that reached Dickey weren't serious threats. Alessia Russo came closest to scoring for the Tar Heels but when she slid into the goal area to meet Isabel Cox's pass arrived a split-second too late to connect solidly, and managed only to deflect the ball wide. Despite often toiling in midfield, Macario took eight of Stanford's shots but didn't come very close to adding to the 32 she scored this season.

North Carolina's best stretch came in the first 10-minute overtime period, which was played mostly in Stanford's half. Bell dribbled out of her own half and blazed toward the Cardinal goal, but her shot from long-range went straight to goalkeeper Katie Meyer. Rachel Jones shot high and Russo wide. During the second overtime period, Stanford took the upper hand again, aside from a Briana Pinto shot handled easily by Meyer. That 10-minute overtime period included four of Stanford's 14 futile corner kicks, many of which were handled by Dickey.

After 20 minutes of overtime -- when the 38th Women's College Cup final became the first without a goal -- Meyer saved the first spot kick, by North Carolina's Taylor Otto. Dickey kept the Tar Heels in it by thwarting Malatskey. Jones, Dicky, Russo and Lotte Wubben-May hit the net for North Carolina. Macario, Smith, Girma and Kennedy Wesley converted for Stanford. In the sixth round, Meyer saved Tori Hansen's shot, Kiara Pickett  hit the net, and Stanford celebrated its third national titles after wins 2011 and 2017. North Carolina, which won the inaugural NCAA title in 1982 and a total of 21, finished runner-up for the second straight year.

"To tie the game is a wonderful achievement," said Anson Dorrance, who's been at the UNC helm from the beginning. "Of course, I don't pretend for a second that we dominated the game and deserve to have more than that. No we didn't. In fact, in terms of domination and chances, you would have to lean toward Stanford. But it wasn't a loss. They made more penalty kicks than we did. They're national champions and we tied them."

Ratcliffe has been Stanford's head coach since 2003 and has now taken Cardinal to the final four eight times, with three runner-up finishes to go with the three titles.

In 2017, Stanford's men also won, the only time that the same college won both the men's and women's DI titles. That could happen again, because the Stanford men are headed to the Men's College Cup in Cary, North Carolina.

Dec. 8 in San Jose, Calif.
Stanford 0 North Carolina 0. (Stanford wins, 5-4, on PKs)
Stanford -- Meyer, Girma, Wesley, Hiatt, Pickett, Briede, Doms, Haley, Malatskey, Macario., Smith. Subs: Enge, Goad, Tran, Greubel.
North Carolina -- Dickey, Dorsey, Wubben-Moy, Bell, Andrezejewski, Otto, Pinto, Jones, Goff, Cox, Russo. Subs: Schultz, Mucherera, Strickland, Redei, Gambone, Pierce, Joel.
Referee: Tori Penso
Att.: 9,591

8 comments about "Stanford captures its third Women's College Cup with shootout win over North Carolina".
  1. frank schoon, December 9, 2019 at 11:40 a.m.

    The best team won, although it took PK's. NC didn't deserve to win this game. I would rather have seen Washington State play Stanford. Stanford played a better brand of ball, although not that much better, than NC. Stanford ,at least, was able to build out from the back  and positioned off the ball better and pass better than NC . Also Stanford was able to pass the ball around better in the NC's own third. NC's dna  is too much run and gun, they don't play a settled type game, that is due to the style of coaching and the type of players Anson recruits, athletic types.

    Stanford has two players  who are not fast and lack acceleration, Marcario, and Hayden, of which Macario exhibits the most poise of any player on the field. The only problem I see is when Marcario plays behind Hayden which is very unbalanced ,attacking and defending wise. Both players are too similar in style and movement and both prefer to receive the ball to their feet. Because Hayden is good at holding on to the ball with a defender in her back, it would be better to have Smith played behind her to make runs towards and past Hayden on attack. But with Marcario playing in that positions ,she doesn't make runs and she prefers also to receives the ball to her feet first. So that is very unbalanced causing a slow down in the attack when either Macario or Hayden passes the ball to each other. Macario should move more to the left side and Jones play behind Hayden.

    What I also notice is so often the girls don't look up before crossing the ball on the run.... 
    I also find that on attack 1v1 the girls don't anything else in technical tools once they have committed a move on a player and it didn't work. A good example is watching Heath who can shift gears and go in another movement with the ball. Where all the girls go for broke with the one movement. That is due to lack of good one on one technical training.

  2. Vince Leone replied, December 9, 2019 at 9:08 p.m.

    I'm guessing Frank has not seen Macario before--she has excellent acceleration with the ball under close control--though she did not display it in the last two games. BTW, it's Madison Haley, not "Haden."

    The 1v1 comment does not apply to several players on this team, especially Macario, Smith, Pickett, and Girma--though I admit you did not see as much of their 1v1 skills in the final. If you watched them all season, you have seen some outstanding 1v1 (and 1v2, 1v3, and 1v4.)

  3. frank schoon replied, December 10, 2019 at 9:47 a.m.

    Vince, you're right i've never seen or heard of Macario or Haley before and that is due to my disinterest( because of the level/quality of soccer performed) in women college soccer or women soccer as a whole. I can only take about 10min of college soccer(not much better for man), never watch women's pro soccer but I do watch the WNT to see how they play technically and tactically.

    Having watched Macario for the first time gives me a primitive, gut feeling assessment of how she  as an individual performed. In other words ,I watched her without any preconceived biases allowing me to judge her in the most natural way. In this manner, you can see better the trees through the forest that you otherwise might miss after seeing her play many times.

    The acceleration I refer to is in the first 3 meters which neither Haley nor Marcario has. Sure they can accelerate ,given enough time and distance. As far as 1v1 situation, Macario is good and she has good ball control  on the dribble only 'IF' she moves in a vertical fashion doing some zig zags if needed, but it has to be in a forward fashion movement. Sharp cutbacks or turns like Haley she can't do or is not as effective or efficient.

    Macario exhibits the Brazilian DNA in perfection. She likes the ball come to her feet first then proceeds for action be it a dribble or pass. She feels comfortable in small spaces ,able to pass with poise under pressure. There is a Golden Rule in soccer, you are either good in small spaces or in large spaces, but you can't be in both, no way. Have you ever seen a Brazilian not good in small spaces  :-)  Most girls are not good in small spaces which is standard in American soccer men and women. This is why Macario stands out in women's soccer.  

    As far as 1v1, womens are not good technically in that particular siuation ,especially when there is  space restrictions. Heath ,sofar, has the ability to change direction, move away and can handle herself. I have yet to see that characteristic in other women. One of the problems is women/girls don't play pickup soccer. I got a feeling Heath has had some pickup experience playing with men.

  4. frank schoon replied, December 10, 2019 at 9:59 a.m.

    I mentioned that Smith who has acceleration and is QUICK her reactions should play behind Haley because they are so opposite in ability and able to cover each other's negative aspects. Furthermore with Haley able to make fast runs and very dangerous forces the opponen't to ease off defensive pressure on Haley, which opens up more space and time for Haley to operate. This as a result will give more passing options for Macario to either Haley or Smith. Ofcourse if Smith is on the wing it will take longer for attack if the ball is passed to Smith and it would give the opponents time to adjust but not if Smith plays or positions behind Haley( not necessarily directly behind Haley) but more opposite of Macario.  For when Macarion receives the ball, the attention is on her thereby making Smith the 3rd man positioned to receive the ball behind the opponents whose attention is on Macario.

    I'm glad they picked Weaver from Washington State for WNT. She is wild and very unpredictable in her style of play which is refreshing. I would like to see Heath on the righwing and Weaver on the leftwing....could be interesting...I hope Smith will likewise be asked...

  5. Ric Fonseca, December 9, 2019 at 12:37 p.m.

    For whatever this is worth, one ironic fact is that Stanford's coach IS a graduate of UCLA and thus played for Coach Sigi Schmid for several seasons and was also largely responsible for the establishment and success UCLA's women's soccer program, working the summer camps wich my daughter also attended.  Good luck and CONGRATULATIONS to Coach Paul Ratcliffe!!!

  6. frank schoon replied, December 9, 2019 at 1:05 p.m.

    Didn't know that.....good info, Ric

  7. Americans '75, December 9, 2019 at 2:32 p.m.

    IMHO major credit to keeper KATIE MEYER for her two great saves. Watch them again ... not guessing but reacting to the kicks. Amazing. Artistry reminiscent of Tony Meola (remember him?).
    Jim R

  8. beautiful game, December 9, 2019 at 4:32 p.m.

    Another mediocre NCAA final. AMEN 

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