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Stanford sophomore rebounds from first-set loss to reach final

 

Stanford sophomore Carol Zhao might have started slow, but her finish was spectacular.

Zhao rallied from a first-set loss and a second-set deficit to beat Florida's Josie Kuhlman, 2-6, 6-4, 6-0, Sunday in the semifinal round of the NCAA women's singles championships at Baylor University in Waco, Texas and earn a spot in Monday's championship match.


Carol Zhao
Kuhlman won the first set and led, 4-3, in the second set before Zhao gathered herself and won nine consecutive games to earn her spot in the final.

"I got off to a slow start," Zhao said. "Josie was playing really well. She took advantage of some things I gave her. I was able to regroup in the second set, find some holes, and I just never looked back in the third."

Kuhlman became the first opponent to win a set against Zhao, who had opened NCAA competition with four straight-set victories while surrendering only six games combined through her first three matches.

"It means a lot," Zhao said of competing for the championship. "This whole tournament, I've just been taking it match by match, just focusing on myself and what I need to do."

Zhao will next face North Carolina's Jamie Loeb, ranked No. 7 nationally and seeded seventh in the draw, in the championship match on Monday at 10 a.m. PT.

Zhao is seeking to become Stanford's first NCAA singles champion since Nicole Gibbs in 2013. The Cardinal has produced 16 all-time collegiate singles champions (14 NCAA, 2 AIAW).

"I've never played her in singles before," said Loeb, who beat Miami's Stephanie Wagner, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the other semifinal. "I lost to her in doubles here a couple days ago. She's obviously a great competitor, and that's about all I know."

In doubles, Caroline Doyle and Ellen Tsay had their impressive tournament run come to an end, falling 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 to defending NCAA champions Maya Jensen and Erin Routliffe of Alabama.

Ranked No. 10 nationally, Doyle and Tsay finished the season 31-9 overall and 15-5 in duals, playing all their matches at the No. 2 spot. Doyle and Tsay posted an 11-6 record against nationally-ranked tandems and also captured the Freeman Invitational Championships crown in January.

Men's soccer

Stanford sophomore forward Jordan Morris was among 19 players called to the U.S. Under-23 men's national team for the Toulon Tournament, which begins Wednesday in the south of France, by U.S. coach Andi Herzog on Sunday.

Herzog will make one addition to complete the 20-player roster, which will officially be submitted on Tuesday evening.

"Toulon is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world at this age level, and we're fortunate to have the opportunity to compete against some of the top teams in the world," said Herzog. "Having seen matches here many times before, I know the type of talent we will face. This is huge for us as we get ready for qualification this October, and is another step in the development of our players in international competition."

Morris will be making his second journey to the Toulon Tournament, which in France has been called "le lieu o├╣ naissent les ├ętoiles," the place where stars are born.

Stanford's first team All-American represented the United States at the event in 2013, when it sent the U-20 MNT that finished seventh. Morris is one of seven players on this U.S. roster returning for the current edition of the Toulon Tournament.

Always a gathering of the world's top soccer powers, the Toulon Tournament features regular competitors Netherlands, England and host France, as well as Costa Rica, China, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Mexico, Qatar and the USA.

Comprised of two five-team groups, the United States is with Costa Rica, France, Netherlands and Qatar in Group A. Group B consists of China, England, Ivory Coast, Mexico and Morocco.

The top teams from each group will meet in the final on June 7, and the second-place teams from each group will play for third place that day.

Morris has scored in two consecutive games at the U-23 level. On March 27 in Tuzla, he scored the opening goal in the U-23 MNT's 5-2 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nearly a month later, he capped off a dominant week against Mexico by scoring in a 3-0 win on April 22 at StubHub Center in Carson.

Morris is the leading goal scorer on this roster. He has scored twice in 2015, and in his four-game career with the U-23',s he has scored three times.

The sophomore burst onto the international stage on April 15, when he started and scored in the 49th minute for the U.S. men's national team against archrival Mexico in a 2-0 victory at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

The Mercer Island, Washington native is thought to be the first collegian to score for the U.S. since Mike Sorber in September 1992.

He's the third player with Stanford ties to start for the USMNT and first since Chad Marshall did so on Jan. 23, 2010 against Honduras in Carson. Marshall started 11 times for his country in three different years (2005, 2009 and 2010). Todd Dunivant started twice in 2006.

Morris is also the sixth U.S. national team player to score his first career goal against Mexico, joining Josh Wolff, Jimmy Conrad, Jozy Altidore, Michael Orozco and Landon Donovan.

On March 31, Morris made his second appearance with the Senior Team when he came on in the 89th minute against 12th-ranked Switzerland at Stadion Letzigrund in Zurich.

Last November, he became the first active collegian since 1995 to receive a cap for the USMNT when he came on in the 76th minute in a friendly against Ireland in Dublin.

An earlier call up to the national team camp for its Sept. 3 friendly against the Czech Republic in Prague made him the first current collegian to join the USMNT in 15 years.

In late March, Morris was among 18 players called to Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina by for the U-23s first training camp of 2015. He scored the opening goal against Bosnia-Herzegovina on March 27 before he was elevated to the USMNT for the aforementioned match with Switzerland.

He also made two other appearances with the U.S. U-23 men's national team at camps in Nassau, Bahamas (Aug. 3-7, 2014) and Brasilia, Brazil (Oct. 10-13, 2014). The trip to Nassau featured a match against the Bahamas Senior National Team, a 5-1 U.S. win in which Morris' header in the 58th minute broke a 1-1 deadlock.

The Toulon event will play a part in the team's continued preparations for the 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship, which will be played in the United States from Oct. 1-13.

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