Orlando, Florida, will play host to the 2017 NCAA Women’s College Cup as the cream of the crop make their way south.
UCLA, Duke, Stanford and South Carolina will battle on the pitch for the right to hoist the national championship trophy.
This year’s edition of the final four doesn’t have Cinderella stories, as all four teams remaining are ranked in the top five. Stanford, South Carolina and Duke were seeded No. 1 in their respective brackets, with the Bruins as the lone No. 2 seed as they make the trip to Orlando.
The No. 1 overall seed and top-ranked Stanford will arrive at Orlando City Stadium with a record of 22-1, to appear in its eighth College Cup. The Cardinal have not reached the final four since 2014, after winning their only championship title in 2011.
South Carolina (19-2-1) upended Florida in the quarterfinal to secure the program’s first appearance in the College Cup. In recent years, the Gamecocks have been performing steadily, advancing to the quarterfinals in three of the past four championships.
Stanford’s only loss this season came at the hands of Florida, a team South Carolina defeated twice this season. The Gamecocks have yet to concede a goal in the postseason, outscoring their opponents 7-0.
Duke (23-2), UCLA’s opponent Friday, arrives after outscoring its previous tournament opponents 15-0, including a 7-0 thrashing of Oklahoma State in the second round.
Three of the four Blue Devils’ opponents were ranked in the top 25, providing Duke with no shortage of top competition.
Aside from Stanford, Duke will be the Bruins’ highest-ranked opponent this season.
For the Bruins (19-2-2), this is the 10th-overall appearance in the College Cup and first since going all the way and winning their first and only title in 2013.
This is UCLA’s deepest tournament run since its title run in 2013, as the Bruins were ousted in the third round last year and missed the tournament altogether in 2015.
Stanford and UCLA arrive tied in national championships overall with 113, across all NCAA Division I teams and individual championships.
But before both teams can think about a national championship match for the overall lead in NCAA titles, they’ll need to get past the Carolina schools Friday.