Despite blowing a 2-0 lead in four minutes, top-seeded Stanford women’s soccer (24-1-0) eventually edged out No. 4 UCLA (19-3-3) 3-2 to win the program’s second-ever NCAA title, thanks to a game-winning goal by College Cup’s Most Outstanding Player junior Jaye Boissiere.
The team clinched the 114th national title, which put the school one crown ahead of UCLA. Nonetheless, that was only the case for a few hours as UCLA men’s water polo won the NCAA championship against USC that same day. Both schools are now tied at 114 championships apiece.
Nevertheless, the win marks the nation-leading 42nd consecutive year that the Cardinal have won a national championship, and the victory also puts the Cardinal at a record of 51 women’s national titles.
This championship game was the Cardinal’s first appearance in the College Cup final since their title in 2011 and was also the first time ever that both teams scored at least twice in a title game.
Stanford came out of the gate firing, and freshman Catarina Macario assisted the Cardinal’s two goals in the first half. The Bruins changed the pace of the game in the second part, and managed to score twice in four minutes to tie it up at two.
“Catarina [Macario] is incredible,” said Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe. “She’s a freshman with the maturity of a senior. Every time she gets the ball she looks like she’s capable of creating, if not, scoring a goal. She had remarkable numbers; there isn’t enough I could say about her.”
Macario came up with another assist, her nation-leading 17th of the season, as she set up Boissiere for the deciding score in the 67th minute. The senior found the back of the net on a shot from well outside the box that she lodged into the left side of the Bruin cage.
“The character of this team is very strong,” said Ratcliffe. “We talked about determination and resiliency, and they fought back. Jaye [Boissiere] scored a fantastic goal. It’s difficult to come back from a situation like this but these girls wouldn’t be denied.”
Boissiere was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament for her efforts this postseason. This award is the climax of a comeback for the senior, who battled injuries for two of her four seasons at Stanford. This year was the first time she was fully healthy and competed in every game, and she clearly made the most of it, finishing with nine goals and 10 assists.
“It’s been a wild journey, but I have had a great support system all around,” said Boissiere. “Getting back there and playing has been unimaginable. It was very special.”
Eventually, Stanford held on to that one-goal lead as the defensive line did not crack under the constant pressure UCLA applied in the final 10 minutes of the game. Throughout the game, keeper Alison Jahansouz posted two saves, while being really aggressive on many other occasions. The sophomore caught the ball over the head of a UCLA player on two corner kicks and came out of her cage twice on deep long balls from the Bruins defensive line.
Sophomore Tierna Davidson was also instrumental in the Cardinal’s defensive effort this weekend. Voted Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the College Cup, Davidson prevented the Bruins from scoring late in the first half with a clean tackle inside the penalty box and later in the second half kicked away a cross ball from the Bruins the would have beaten Jahansouz and certainly led to a UCLA score.
Junior Kyra Carusa got things started for Stanford as she opened the Cardinal’s scoring account in the 15th minute. Macario ran down the left side of the field and booted a cross ball that was deflected by a Bruin defender. UCLA goalie Teagan Micah was surprised as the ball bounced over her head, and Carusa converted the opportunity with a right-footed volley into the open cage.
For the second goal of the day, senior Andi Sullivan made a run behind the UCLA defensive line and was served by Macario in the right side of the penalty box. Sullivan broke coverage to double the Cardinal lead as she scored her third goal of the season.
“I don’t think it gets much better than what just happened,” said Sullivan after the game. “It keeps hitting me in waves. It’s amazing, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so complete in my life.”
Fourteen minutes later, Boissiere shot the ball but was blocked by a Bruin defender’s hand. While the play could have led to a penalty for the Cardinal, the referee let the play develop.
Junior Tegan McGrady preserved the lead near the end of the half when she recovered the ball near the Stanford cage and kicked it away. McGrady had two deep dribbling runs inside the Bruins defensive line in the first half that culminated in two shots. The junior also almost made it 4-2 in the 74th with a shot that mirrored that of Boissiere. Only that strike hit the top part of the right post and ricocheted away to keep the Bruins safe.
UCLA’s two scores came on set pieces, one penalty and one corner kick, within a few moments of each other. Ten minutes into the first half, a defensive miscommunication forced Jahansouz to dive into UCLA’s Zoey Goralski’s feet and concede a penalty. Despite making contact with the ball on the ensuing set piece, Jahansouz was unable to prevent Jessie Fleming from cutting the Cardinal’s lead in half.
Four minutes later, the Bruins tied the game on a corner kick, as the ball bounced off a couple of players before Delanie Sheehan headed it in over Carusa.
The trophy closes a season for the ages, in which the Cardinal tied a program-record of 19 shutouts, lost only one game and outscored their opponents 91-10. This high scoring also set a program record, beating the previous mark by 11 goals.
“It was a fantastic game, very entertaining,” said Ratcliffe. “I am very proud of this group; they worked tirelessly all season.”
Contact Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’ stanford.edu.