The 2017 Women’s College Cup comes to the Sunshine State. Featuring Stanford and UCLA from the PAC-12, Duke from the ACC, and the SEC’s South Carolina, the nation’s best teams will look to take home the cup in Orlando City Stadium.
This year’s Final Four consists of three top seeded teams and one second seeded team, but there were some notable upsets along the way. Princeton upset 21-time champion North Carolina in the third round of the tournament. UCLA is the only second seeded team to make it past the quarterfinals. UCF lost in the first round, Texas A&M in the second, and West Virginia in the third. Defending champion USC also lost in the second round.
After winning 20 straight games, outscoring opponents 26-7, going undefeated in conference play, and holding a record of 22-1, it is no wonder why the Cardinal is this year’s favorite. In the College Cup, Stanford has scored 16 goals through its four games, while just letting in one. Starting with a 9-1 win over Utah Valley, Stanford then went on to to beat Auburn, 2-0, and FSU, 1-0. A 4-0 win over Penn State helped Stanford to so far live up to expectations.
After finding the back of the net 86 times, Stanford clearly has a plethora of attacking options, however it is freshman Catarina Macario that opponents must be careful of. Macario’s 17 goals and 13 assists paved her way to the ESPNW Soccer Player of the Year honor and to becoming a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist. Stanford also features USWNT midfielder Andi Sullivan.
Led by senior forward Savannah McCaskill, South Carolina comes into its semifinal battle knowing it has every chance to upset Stanford. In search of their first NCAA championship, the Gamecocks (22-1-0) will look to keep the game close with strong defensive play. South Carolina has yet to allow a goal in this tournament and will need to rely on its strong defense to get by the Cardinal. En route to the semifinals, South Carolina beat Alabama State, Wisconsin, Santa Clara, and Florida by a combined scored of 7-0.
The ACC champions lost just two games in 2017 — both to rivals UNC — and finished with a record of 23-2-0. In what is already one of the best years in Duke women’s soccer history, the Blue Devils are looking to make more history by winning their first title. Senior Imani Dorsey and junior Kayla McCoy lead the Duke attack, which is tied for 11th on the NCAA goal-scoring list with 14. The Blue Devils have outscored their opponents 15-0 in the NCAA tournament with wins against UNC Greensboro, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Baylor.
Making its 10th College Cup appearance and first semifinal appearance since 2013 is the lone two seed. After a 3-1 victory against San Diego State to start the tournament, the Bruins (19-2-2) narrowly beat Northwestern and Virginia by one-goal margins. They then went into the quarterfinals strong and beat Princeton, 3-1, to make it to Orlando. MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalists Hailie Mace and Jessie Fleming lead the Bruins, but opponents must also be wary of Ashley Sanchez, whose 12 assists on the year are tied for third most.
How to Watch
Times: 5 p.m. ET (Stanford vs. South Carolina), 7:30 p.m. ET (Duke vs. UCLA), Dec. 3 at 12 p.m. ET (National Championship).
Venue: Orlando City Stadium — Orlando, FL.
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand. The NCAA prohibits any kind of “play-by-play” so we may not be as active with our live tweeting as usual during the match. But you can also follow along with the teams’ official Twitter accounts: @GamecockWSoccer, @StanfordWSoccer, @DukeWSOC, @UCLAWSoccer
Our Michael Citro will be on site for The Mane Land and will bring you updates on Twitter and recaps of both of today’s games and the final on Sunday afternoon.