Stanford women to play for NCAA soccer title against Notre Dame

Levin, Taylor score in Cardinal 2-0 win over Boston College

Camille Levin and Lindsay Taylor each scored an unassisted goal to lead the Stanford women's soccer team past Boston College, 2-0, in the Women's College Cup national semifinals at Cary, N.C. on Friday.

The victory puts the top-ranked Cardinal (23-0-2) into the national championship game for the second consecutive year.

Stanford will meet Notre Dame (20-2-2) on Sunday at 9 a.m. (PT) for the NCAA championship. The Irish, two-time national champs, beat Ohio State, 1-0, in the other semifinal.

"It should be an exciting game," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "Notre Dame is a quality team so it should be a great fight."

Stanford held the Eagles (17-7-1) without a shot in the first half, the fourth time the Cardinal has held an opponent shotless in an opening half this season, but was unable to get on the scoreboard until Levin scored a brilliant goal in the 48th minute.

Ratcliffe switched Levin and Teresa Noyola, with Levin going from forward to center midfield at the outset of the second half.

Levin took a pass from Christen Press and attacked, exploiting space up the middle, and unleashed a shot into the upper right corner from just inside the penalty area.

"Their back line, they were really tight on you initially," Levin said. "Then they would start to drop back, so as they kept dropping and I just kind of cut one side and saw an open shot."

It was Levin's second goal of the season and she became the 10th different Stanford player to score in the NCAA Tournament, a span of five matches.

Stanford has outscored its playoff opponents 15-1, while earning its fourth tournament shutout.

Boston College nearly tied the score when standout Kristie Mewis rose for a header that was saved spectacularly by goalkeeper Emily Oliver. The freshman sprawled to her left and blocked the shot with her left arm.

As she scrambled to collect the loose ball, she dove at the feet of the Eagles' Hannah Cerrone, whose point-blank shot went high.

Stanford turned a Boston College mistake into the clinching goal when Taylor cut in front of a defender to intercept a goal kick and beat goalkeeper Jillian Mastroianni one on one with a well-placed 10-yard shot in the 87th minute.

Stanford had a slight edge in shots, 12-9, including 6-5 on goal.

"It was a tight match and people were playing like it was the last game of their lives," Ratcliffe said. "At times these games can be a little bit ugly, and we need to get better at playing like that sometimes to get the result at the end of the day. But you saw the great passing, a fluid movement and things occurring."

After a 15-year absence, Stanford returned to the Final Four in 2008, and reached its first title match last year, losing to North Carolina, 1-0.

The Irish won the title in 1995 and again in 2004, when they beat UCLA on penalty kicks.

Notre Dame bounced the Cardinal out of the 2008 NCAA semifinals and ended Stanford's season in the NCAA tournament once previous. The all-time series favors the Irish 6-5-1, though its 2-2-1 over the past five meetings.

Stanford has ended the Eagles' season the past two years.

— Palo Alto Online Sports


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