Stanford Advances to NCAA Women's College Cup Final
*Courtesy of www.gostanford.com
CARY, N.C. - Camille Levin has proven her versatility all season, willfully moving from position to position whenever called upon.
In the NCAA College Cup semifinals Friday, Levin was called upon again, switching up yet again - and delivering yet again - scoring the backbreaking goal to lead the Cardinal to a 2-0 victory over Boston College before 8,323 at WakeMed Soccer Park.
At various times, Levin has started at outside back, central defense and forward. But at halftime of a 0-0 draw, Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe sensed a need for her to shift to another position - attacking midfielder. Moments later, Levin buried an 18-yard shot into the upper corner.
By the final whistle, Stanford had drawn one step closer to its first NCAA title by advancing to Sunday's championship final against Notre Dame, a 1-0 winner over Ohio State in the opening semifinal.
Lindsay Taylor followed with a late goal to lift top-ranked Stanford (23-0-2) into its second consecutive final, which kicks off Sunday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT).
"Tonight was a hard game," Ratcliffe said. "It was a tight match and people were playing like it was the last game of their lives."
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 score until Levin scored her brilliant goal in the 48th minute.
Levin took a pass from Christen Press and attacked the goal, exploiting space that opened up above the penalty area.
"Their back line was really tight on you initially and then they would start to drop back," Levin said. "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. She also became the 10th Stanford player to score in the NCAA tournament, a span of five matches. As opponents concentrate on marking Press, the nation's leading scorer, Stanford has proven its depth and breadth of talent.
Press was marked tightly and even while backtracking to pick up balls in the midfield. However, she still nearly broke through with a quick series of cuts through the heart of the Eagles' defense on one first-half sequence, beating everyone except Jillian Mastroianni, the goalkeeper who repeatedly stymied the Cardinal during a season-opening 1-1 draw at Boston College.
But Boston College nearly tied the score when star 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.
But Stanford struck back when it turned a Boston College mistake into the clinching goal. In the 87th minute, Mastroianni's goal kick never reached her destination. Taylor Taylor cut in front of a defender to intercept and beat Mastroianni one on one with a well-placed 10-yard shot.
The goal provided the finish to what had been a fairly tight match. Stanford would end up with its 15th shutout of the season and fourth of the postseason, outscoring opponents 15-1 during that span.
"The team was a little bit tight for my liking," Ratcliffe said. "Probably because of the big stage and they know so much is at stake. Boston College played very high and put us under pressure. If we could have gotten behind them a few times to stretch them, then things could have really opened up. The second goal, you saw that occur. Lindsay Taylor put their defender under pressure earlier instead of dropping so deep and we were able to get a second goal."
Next, Stanford has Notre Dame (20-2-2), the team that beat the Cardinal in a 2008 semifinal on the same field. The Irish hold a 6-5-1 all-time series edge, though Stanford won their most recent meeting 2-0 at the 2009 Santa Clara Classic.