ORLANDO, Fla. – The national championship tie between UCLA and Stanford will be broken Sunday afternoon.
The second-seeded Bruins (19-2-3) and the top-seeded Cardinal (23-1-0) won their respective semifinals matches Friday to ensure an all-Pac-12 championship match.
The national championship winner will gain a 114th title, surpassing the other and taking the lead.
“It’s great for the Pac-12,” said coach Amanda Cromwell after the win on Friday. “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 subplays.”
The Bruins have an all-time record of 11-14-2 against the Cardinal.
UCLA hosted a game against Stanford in the regular season, in which Stanford took home a controversial win after officials declared a shot by junior forward Hailie Mace to be a nongoal, saying it did not cross the line.
“At the beginning of the season we scored a goal against Stanford that was not recorded,” Cromwell said. “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.”
The loss to the Cardinal was one of just two for the Bruins all year, giving UCLA a shot at redemption this Sunday.
Both teams will face a quick turnaround time as they will take the field once again Sunday at noon EST/9 a.m. PST.
“It’s a dilemma – not only is it Sunday, but it’s an early game,” Cromwell said. “Any amount of hours are a good amount to recover. Our strength coach, our athletic trainers, our massage therapist are all here for a reason and they are going to be working hard tomorrow to get these legs recovered.”
This is the fourth time in history that two Pac-12 teams have advanced to the College Cup. The Pac-12 is the only conference in collegiate women’s soccer to have three different teams win national titles – USC, Stanford and UCLA.
“I don’t think one game will be easier or harder than the other,” said Cardinal coach Paul Ratcliffe, after the semifinals victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks. “I have been very impressed by both (UCLA and Duke).”
Stanford trounced South Carolina after scoring two goals in the first half. The Cardinal held the Gamecocks scoreless, controlling the majority of possession and outshooting them 17-5 until the clock wound down.
UCLA will have to put up a strong defense to counter Stanford’s attacking mentality, – which has helped the Cardinal earn 19 shutouts this year – if it is to once again claim the top spot for titles won.
“I know the girls really wanted that game back – and here we are, facing them in the national championship game.” Cromwell said.