North Carolina handed Stanford its only loss of the season with a 1-0win on Sunday, but it could not have come at a worse time for Stanford.
One win from the perfect season, the Pac-10 champions watched their hopes of a national championship slowly slip away over the course of 90 minutes. North Carolina started off with a 3rd minute goal from Jessica McDonald and picked apart a frustrated Stanford side that saw just 38 percent of the possession in the first half.
Stanford looked like a team that had settled down in the second half, but two goals were called back by for involving offside players and star forward Kelley O’Hara’s red card in the 72nd minute killed any chances Stanford had at a comeback.
For most of the game North Carolina enjoyed the better play, and madesome potential All-Americans for Stanford look like they were completely off their game.
Here are The Equalizer’s player ratings for the NCAA Women’s College Cup final (Ratings of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best possible game; starters listed with *):
- GK) *Ashlyn Harris – 7 -Wasn’t really called into action much, but did what she needed to, particularly on a couple of Press shots. Did get saved by some offside calls and had a great defense in front of her.
- D) *Rachel Givan – 9 – Shut down O’Hara and company all night, along with therest of her defense. Hardly ever got exposed. Delivered quality corner kicks.
- D) *Whitney Engen – 9- Played through pain after O’Hara’s rough tackle. Organized the back three for UNC and was positioned perfectly throughout the night.
- D) *Kristi Eveland – 8 – Looking for the ball more after being shut down by Givan, O’Hara strayed out to the right but still did not find any space.
- M) *Meghan Kingenberg – 8 – Linked up well with Casey Nogueira when she strayed out wide.
- M) *Amber Brooks – 6 – Controlled the midfield fairly well, but a rather average night.
- M) *Lucy Bronze – 6 – same as Brooks: Average and quiet night but got the job done.
- M) *Tobin Heath – 8 – The usual quality from Heath. She did well to get involved in the attack and consistently threatened the Stanford back line.
- F) *Courtney Jones – 6 – Jones held the ball up well up front to help UNC dictate play.
- F) *Jessica McDonald – 8 – Game-winning goal in a national championship game. Enough said.
- F) *Casey Nogueira – 8 -She made it look easy against one of the best teams in the country. It seems that she knows she makes it look easy, though, and that she could still give more.
- M) Ali Hawkins – 6 – Did well to give North Carolina presence in the air on corner kicks.
- F) Alyssa Rich – 6 – Made some good runs off the ball.
- M) Maria Lubrano – 5 – Somewhat effective. Had an average game, but did miss a late tap-in that would have sealed the game.
- F) Sterling Smith – 5 – Played a small, average role.
- GK) *Kira Maker – 7 – Could not do a whole lot about the goal, and still made a couple of big saves down the stretch.
- D) *Rachel Quon – 4 – Freshman right back could not sort herself out on the day, and gave away almost every long ball she tried to play. Did improve offensively in the second half with some overlapping runs.
- D) *Alicia Jenkins – 6 – Did a decent job to keep the back line organized. Was caught in no-man’s land on the goal.
- D) *Alina Garciamendez – 6 – Average game for a Stanford side that could not find its groove.
- D) *Ali Riley – 7 -Struggled to find her feet in the first half but was a big part of Stanford’s attack in the second half. Her overlapping runs and willingness to push up and track back after O’Hara’s red card showed character.
- M) *Teresa Noyola – 6 – Created Stanford’s only real shot in the first half.
- M) *Allison McCann – 5 – Defenders could not find the midfield in the first half, and the midfield did not do a good job of finding the game.
- M) *Hillary Heath – 5 – See McCann. Stanford needed more of a connection between each layer.
- F) *Lindsay Taylor – 6 – Attempted to find the game more by dropping deeper into the midfield to get the ball.
- F) *Christen Press – 8 -She has the necessary amount of selfishness as a forward and almost equalized this game late even without her strike-partner O’Hara. Had the most energy of any Cardinal player.
- F) *Kelley O’Hara – 4 -This is a tough decision, because I think on most days she would be the best player on the field between these two teams. However, she was not only shut down, but her reckless play might have cost Stanford an opportunity to equalize. Surely she was frustrated, but Stanford had turned the game around in the second half and there was no reason to make either of those tackles that led to yellow cards.
- F) Courtney Verloo – 5 – Played some lazy balls but showed signs of good things.
- M) Mariah Nogueira – 6 – Gave Stanford a good presence in the air. Started the second half thanks to positive play.
- M) Camille Levin – 5 – Nothing spectacular today. Couldn’t really save a struggling midfield.
The Equalizer’s Game MVP: Rachel Givan- She deserves this for shutting down the most potent attack in the country. O’Hara, Press and Taylor were frustrated all day and could not break through the attack. Though Engen and Eveland helped keepthis back three intact, it was Givan making the critical tackles to deny Stanford.
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