ORLANDO, Fla. – After two early first-half goals by Stanford had the Cardinal sitting comfortable entering halftime, the Bruins responded with two right after the break.
But a strike from 25-yards out from Jaye Boissiere in the 67th minute ensured a 3-2 victory for the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal over No. 2 UCLA Bruins to claim the 2017 NCAA Women’s College Cup title Sunday afternoon in front of an announced crowd of 1,938 at Orlando City Stadium.
“The character this team has been very strong,” said Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe after the game. “It’s something we spoke about from the first meeting we had as a group. They fought back, and they weren’t going to be denied. I think you saw the character of the entire group. It’s difficult when you’re up 2-0 and you go to 2-2 in a game of this magnitude to have the strength to keep going forward and get that third goal.”
But the Bruins (19-3-3) responded early in the second half with two goals in five minutes when Jessie Fleming converted a penalty kick in the 54th minute and Delanie Sheehan scoring the equalizer in the 59th minute after heading in a ball off a corner kick.
The Cardinal, who held possession for most of the game, didn’t lose focus, however. Freshmen forward Catarina Macario, who lead Stanford in scoring this season, notched her third assist after setting up Boissiere to strike the ball from distance toward the upper-left corner for the go-ahead goal in the 67th minute.
“Possession is basically our game and what we do best. After they scored, it’s a new a game… we’re confident in our ability and that led to Jaye’s [Boissiere] goal,” said Macario.
In the opening minutes, a shot from Madison Haley nearly put the Cardinal on the scoresheet, but the ball was sent wide in the third minute.
The following play, however, resulted into Stanford netting the opening goal when Carusa scored after Micah stepped off her line, opening the opportunity for Carusa to strike the ball into a wide-open net in the 15th minute.
The Cardinal doubled the lead in the 26th minute after a ball from freshmen forward Catarina Macario sent a ball forward down the right-hand flank, connecting with Sullivan to strike the ball past Micah for the 2-0 lead.
In the 39th minute, a shot from Boissiere was denied by an apparent handball from a UCLA defender, but head referee Corey Rockwell did not whistle the infraction.
Stanford almost pulled one back before halftime when a shot from Hailie Mace was denied by McGrady near the goal line in the 43rd minute.
Stanford outshot UCLA 15-5 while UCLA goalkeeper Micah recorded a game-high six saves for the Bruins.
With the win on Sunday, Stanford extends its winning streak to 22 games to close the 2017 season.
Stanford claimed its second national title after previously winning the Women’s College Cup in 2011 over Duke.