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Stanford, UCLA make it a Pac-12 affair

Article Written by Sheldon Shealer
Published: December 1, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Jordan DiBiasi doesn’t score often, but when she does, it’s meaningful.

The junior from Highlands Ranch, Colo., scored on a header nine minutes in, then on a deflected shot 16 minutes later as Stanford built an early lead en route to a 2-0 victory over South Carolina on Friday in the NCAA Women’s College Cup semifinals.

Stanford (23-1) advances to Sunday’s final to face Pac-12 rival UCLA at Orlando City Stadium, host of this year’s Women’s College Cup. UCLA (19-2-3) edged Duke (23-2-1) 4-3 in penalty kicks following a scoreless match, and the winning kick was made by a player who did not play during the match.

The Stanford-UCLA final, scheduled for Sunday at noon, will mark the first time a pair of Pac-12 teams have reached the final in the same season. It also guarantees the conference a second straight national title, since Southern Cal won last season.

"It's great for the Pac-12," UCLA coach Amanda Cromwell said. "When you look back at this season, I think the two best teams made it. Stanford had been really consistent, dangerous on the attack and the sub-plays. We are two very evenly matched teams. At the beginning of the season we scored a goal against Stanford that was not recorded. The officials stated it never crossed the line. That was a little frustrating and then they scored on the ensuing corner kick. That was one of those that changed the energy and the vibe. I know the girls really wanted that game back and here we are facing them in the national championship game."

Following Friday’s contest, DiBiasi has scored 21 career goals -- 12 of the match-winners.

"I don’t know how it always happens like that, but we are just really set on winning a national championship," DiBiasi said. "I'm glad that we now have a chance to compete for that."

From the outset, Stanford was in control. In fact, South Carolina (19-3-1) was not able to get a meaningful play past midfield until nearly 10 minutes into the contest. By that time, Stanford already held a 1-0 lead.

The Cardinal struck first on a restart in the 10th minute. There was a break in the action as South Carolina’s Ryan Gareis left the field due to injury. Stanford’s Tegan McGrady whipped the restart into the box, just outside the 6, where DiBiasi made a lunging dive to redirect the ball past keeper Mikayla Krzeczowski 9:25 into the match.

In the 26th minute, DiBlasi ran onto a crossing pass from Catarina Macario and hit a shot that deflected off a South Carolina defender and into the goal. McGrady also was credited with an assist on the play.

"They've only given up nine goals all season so that was a big concern, but it was a huge relief to get the first goal and break the ice," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "They were well organized, well coached, they were hard to break down. The two goals we scored were high-level goals, it wasn't an easy game."

Stanford nearly made it 3-0 early in the second half when Macario struck a shot from 20 yards out that it the post and trickled along the goal line before Krzeczowski covered it up. The play went under review, but the call of no goal was upheld.

Stanford held an 8-3 edge in shots in the first half and the margin grew to 17-5 by the final whistle. South Carolina was credited with only one shot on goal.

South Carolina was making its first Women's College Cup appearance.

"Obviously no one wants to be sitting here saying that the season is over, but I couldn’t be prouder of this group, this team," South Carolina coach Shelley Smith said. "Like I said before the game, we are thrilled to be here. It was a first time for this program, we are honored to be here and to represent the SEC. We told the players to not hang their heads, they’ve done amazing things for our program, and have accomplished great things. We just ran up against a better team tonight, Stanford is excellent."

Duke and UCLA played 110 scoreless minutes through regulation and overtime. Through four rounds of penalty kicks, the teams were tied at 3. In the fifth round, UCLA keeper Teagan Micah smothered an attempt by Kat McDonald. Marley Canales, who did not play during the match, stepped to the penalty kick spot ended it in UCLA's favor with shot into the upper right.

NOTES: Stanford carries a 21-match win streak into the College Cup final. ... The Cardinal held Savannah McCaskill -- the No. 3 all-time goal scorer for South Carolina and all-time leader in shots -- without a shot. ... Grace Fisk delivered a strong defensive showing for South Carolina. ... The final marked only the second time South Carolina was shut out in 2017. ... Three players who did not play in the match took penalty kicks in the shootout and all three converted -- Duke's Gabi Brummett, UCLA's Julia Hernandez and Canales, with the winner. ... Duke goalkeeper EJ Procter recorded a pair of school records Friday with her 14th clean sheet of the season and 35th in her career.

Related Topics: SEC
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