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 parallels the great University of 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 this year. They’ve come close, losing 1-0 in the final game the past 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 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.
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.
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 scuttle shots.
The No. 3 Blue Devils (22-3-1) will also play for their first title with 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 stand 90 minutes from their first national championship
The Kennesaw State stadium was filled Friday night (announced attendance was 9,253). It was the biggest event yet held in the $16.5 million stadium, which opened in 2010 and is a symbol of the school’s progress in athletics.
Be sure to catch the action Sunday at 1:00 EST on ESPNU.