Another chance to finish on top for Stanford soccer


Freshman Chioma Ubogagu scored a goal, recorded an assist, and then left the match with an apparent shin injury as the top-ranked and top-seeded Stanford women's soccer beat beat Florida State, 3-0, in a semifinal of the NCAA Women's College Cup on Friday night.

Kristy Zurmuhlen and Alina Garciamendez also scored for Stanford, which advances to its third consecutive championship tilt.

The Cardinal (24-0-1) meets Duke for the national title Sunday at 10 a.m. (PST). The Blue Devils knocked off Wake Forest in the other semifinal.

"This has always been our goal . . . to get to the championship game and ultimately become the champions," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "The nucleus of this team has been to a few College Cups and that helps."

The Seminoles, who also had their season end at the hands of Stanford in last year's Elite Eight, had a 12-9 shot advantage, including a 6-3 edge in shots on goal.

Ubogagu got Stanford going in the 22nd minute, finishing off a counter attack off a Florida State corner kick. She took a pass from Palo Alto grad Teresa Noyola and fired it along the ground past Seminoles' goalkeeper Kelsey Wys.

"Great awareness," Ratcliffe said. "Chioma accelerated with the ball and Noyola came up, and it was a great combination play and great composure."

Ubogagu was also involved the second goal, making a nice run and then executing a nice give-and-go pass with Lindsay Taylor, setting up Zurmuhlen's sliding goal that just snuck by the near post.

"There's not doubt I've been blessed to have some great freshmen," Ratcliffe said. "Chioma is way up there. She's a special player. She has a level of maturity about her and composure. She's a big-time player. It seems in the big games she steps up."

Garciamendez scored on a header off a crossing pass from senior Madeline Thompson, who entered the game 44 seconds earlier.

"Madeleine Thompson is a fantastic player, more of a defensive midfielder for us," Ratcliffe said. "She hit a long ball into the box and Alina Garciamendez is great in the air, she's scored a lot of goals in her career on headers."

Ubogagu left the game with just under 20 minutes to play after getting kicked, accidentally, by a Florida State player. Natalie Griffin replaced her on the field.

"I just felt really comfortable; I wasn't really nervous during the game," Ubogagu said. "The first goal, we talked about in the scouting report how they sent a little too many players on corners. We just countered."

Stanford goalkeeper Emily Oliver recorded six saves in the contest, including a pair of highlight reel saves near the end of the game.

"Our back line is fantastic," Oliver said. "It makes it easy for me to do my job. Whoever we put in front of me, our defense starts with our forwards. It makes it easier for me. It was a great win, a great shutout and we're looking forward to Sunday."

The goal total was the most for Stanford in seven College Cup matches all-time.

Also, the assist for Noyola gave her 100 points for her career and left her within one of a pair of Stanford records, for assists in a career (Noyola has 40) and in a season (15). Christen Press holds both marks.

Stanford, in its fourth straight Final Four, will be looking to finish off a championship season after losing, 1-0, in the final match in each of the past two years.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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