The Stanford Cardinal jumped out to an early lead, survived a UCLA (19-3-3) rally, and found a game winner to capture the 2017 Women’s College Cup, 3-2 in front of 1,938 fans at Orlando City Stadium. Stanford finishes the year with an incredible 24-1-0 record and a dominating run in the NCAA tournament, outscoring its opponents 21-3 in the postseason. The Cardinal won its last 22 games en route to capturing the school’s second championship (2011 was the other).
Jaye Boissiere’s sensational goal in the 67th minute was all that separated the two Pac-12 rivals in the end, and it was a strike worthy of a championship winner. Her ninth goal of the year proved to be the most important of her — and her team’s — season.
“I think it was a fantastic game, very entertaining game,” Stanford Head Coach Paul Ratcliffe said after the match. “I’m so proud of this group and so happy for them. We worked tirelessly the entire season and all I can say is what a year it was. It was fantastic.”
Stanford looked comfortable throughout the first half, dealing with UCLA’s high pressure, calmly keeping the ball moving, and retaining possession through the middle of the pitch and down the wings. The Cardinal got the first scoring chance just two minutes in when Madison Haley fired just wide of the left post. Two minutes later, a Stanford corner kick skipped through the box but no one could get onto it and it was cleared by the Bruins.
UCLA got an opportunity in the 11th minute when Jessie Fleming sent Hailie Mace forward with a long ball towards goal, but Stanford defender Alana Cook was physical with Mace and cleared the ball out of harm's way before Mace could shoot. The Bruins got another opportunity when a give-and-go resulted in a shot by Zoey Goralski that was saved by an outstretched Alison Jahansouz.
The Cardinal struck just after that — still in the 15th minute — when Catarina Macario sent a cross into the box that bounced high off the turf. UCLA goalkeeper Teagan Micah couldn’t catch it cleanly and it skipped off her gloves and landed behind her, where Kyra Caruso gathered, turned, and blasted her 15th goal of the season into the empty net to make it 1-0.
The game settled into a back-and-forth affair in the middle of the pitch for a while after that. It took until the 26th minute for the next good scoring opportunity and it was the Cardinal again finding the net. Haley and Macario worked the ball beautifully up the right side for Andi Sullivan, who raced up the right channel and blasted it into the net to make it 2-0 to Stanford. It was Sullivan’s third of the year.
The Cardinal had a couple half-chances after that to find a third. Teagan McGrady blasted one right at Micah in the 31st and Macario smashed one in the 41st that Micah initially spilled but was able to recover before any Stanford attackers could close the distance. Two minutes after that chance, McGrady was a defensive hero, clearing a Mace shot off the line that was on its way toward cutting the lead in half.
In the 44th minute, the half ended in some wide-open play as Mace went down under pressure in the box but her penalty appeals were denied by referee Corey Rockwell. Stanford quickly broke in transition and Sam Tran forced Micah into a diving save to keep it at 2-0.
Moments later, the halftime whistle blew and the Cardinal had a comfortable 2-0 advantage at the break. Stanford held an 8-2 advantage in shots (6-1 on target).
“I thought we had a really solid performance (in the first half),” Ratcliffe said. “I thought we had chances to get the third goal at times to break the game open but ultimately it was a good halftime lead.”
UCLA wasn’t done, however. The Bruins came out active and energized to start the second half, dictating the pace of play and turning the game into a more open affair. Goralski got in behind in the 54th minute and was taken down by Jahansouz, earning a penalty kick for UCLA and a yellow card for the Stanford goalkeeper. Canadian international Jessie Fleming stood in and buried the spot kick — her sixth goal of the year — to cut the lead in half.
Stanford nearly pulled that goal right back. Jordan DiBiasi’s effort was fired over the bar on a quick attack, as the game remained wide open.
The Bruins equalized just minutes later. Anika Rodriquez sent a corner into the area and Delanie Sheehan nodded in her fifth goal of the year to tie the score at 2-2 in the 59th minute. Stunningly, a game that the Cardinal had completely controlled, was all level with half an hour still to play.
“We’ve been talking about set plays all year and I was happy we got that to tie it up,” UCLA Head Coach Amanda Cromwell said. “I think we were dangerous enough to potentially get another one on a set play. I think these girls have shown all year long they were super resilient. They believe and trust in each other and that’s what you saw in that comeback.”
“The second half I wasn’t very pleased with us conceding two goals,” Ratcliffe said. “But sometimes when you play a great team like UCLA, that can happen. They have a lot of great attacking players.”
Immediately after the goal, the Stanford players huddled at the urging of junior defender Alana Cook and the on-field meeting seemed to refocus the Cardinal.
“Alana Cook kind of gathered us together and said, ‘all right, it’s like a new game,’” said Sullivan. “So, I thought she did a really good job of kind of resetting us as a group and we didn’t dwell on the fact that we just gave up two goals.”
Two minutes after the equalizer, the Cardinal nearly regained the lead. Tierna Davidson got her head to a long-range free kick but nodded it wide of the net. But five minutes later, Stanford did get its go-ahead goal on an unbelievable strike.
Macario played a ball back for Jaye Boissiere, who smashed a curling effort from 25 yards out just inside the back post. The golazo made it 3-2.
“What Stanford did was pick it up again,” Cromwell said. “We had just expended so much energy. Hats off to Jaye Bossierre today because I think she was fantastic and that goal was world class.”
After regaining the lead, Stanford again settled into control of the game, keeping possession, earning throw-ins and set pieces, and slowing the pace of the match. The Cardinal still generated chances, however, and McGrady’s drive almost gave Stanford some insurance at the 73-minute mark but it smashed off the post and stayed out.
Stanford’s defense did well to prevent UCLA balls into the box from being tracked down by the Bruins. The Cardinal did well to take the air out of the ball for the most part and force UCLA to play hopeful balls forward as the clock ran down. The Bruins were unable to fashion one final good scoring opportunity and the Cardinal claimed the victory.
Stanford out-shot the Bruins, 15-5 (10-4 on frame).
“I think we gave the crowd and the TV fans a really good game to watch,” Cromwell said. “Again, I’m just really proud of our UCLA girls to show the fortitude they did.”
Ratcliffe praised his team’s resiliency following the UCLA comeback as the Cardinal regained composure and control of the match.
“The character of this team has been very strong,” he said. “It’s something we spoke about from the first meeting we had as a group, and we talked about determination and resiliency. And they fought back and we weren’t going to be denied. And Jaye scored a fantastic goal but I think you saw the character of the entire group that they fought so hard, because It’s difficult when you’re up 2-0 and you go to 2-2 in a game of this magnitude to have the strength to keep going forward and get that third goal.”
Most Outstanding Player on Offense: Jaye Bossiere, Stanford
Most Outstanding Player on Defense: Tierna Davidson, Stanford
Imani Dorsey, Duke
Savannah McCaskill, South Carolina
Jordan DiBiasi, Stanford
Alison Jahansouz, Stanford
Catarina Macario, Stanford
Andi Sullivan, Stanford
Jessie Fleming, UCLA
Zoey Goralski, UCLA
Hailie Mace, UCLA