In a battle between the NCAA’s most storied program and an unbeaten Stanford squad, history won out, as North Carolina took a 1-0 win to claim its record 20th national title.
It was a heartbreaking outcome for Stanford (and after UCLA lost in the semis, I was definitely rooting for the other Cali team) but a deserved win for the Tar Heels nevertheless.
The Tar Heels (23-3-1) earned their sixth NCAA crown since 1999 and their 10th shutout in 11 games, holding the usually high-scoring Cardinal to nine shots. Going into this match, the Cardinal was the nation’s second-highest scoring team, with 80 goals this season, but the Tar Heels allowed only two shots on goal.
The players in the final game dealt with persistent rain and unseasonably cold weather. The temperature at kickoff was 48 degrees, up from the mid-30s for Friday night’s semifinals.
So, without further ado, here are the match highlights:
The Tar Heel’s Jessica McDonald scored in the third minute off a beautiful cross by Casey Nogueira. Nogueira fed a high, bending pass into the goal area, and McDonald rushed in to chip it past goalkeeper Kira Maker.
Stanford’s comeback hopes virtually ended in the second half when POY favorite Kelley O’Hara, the nation’s leading goal scorer, was issued her second yellow card — an automatic ejection — with 17:45 left in the game.
Short-handed Stanford was left to rely on second-leading scorer Christen Press, who nearly tied it with a 20-yard shot that North Carolina goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris leaped to punch away.