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Stanford, Notre Dame advance to College Cup final

Clank, clank, clank, clank.  That is the sound that became engraved in the brains of Notre Dame players as their NCAA College Cup semifinal progressed on Friday in Cary, NC.  The Fighting Irish hit the post four times in the first 81 minutes Friday against Ohio State, but Mandy Laddish’s 83rd minute goal helped Notre Dame finally break through for a 1-0 victory.

Ohio State goalkeeper Katie Baumgardner made 10 saves to keep her team in the match, but could not stop Maxwell’s left-footed rip into the upper corner in the 88th minute.  Baumgardner also got a lot of help from the woodwork.  Notre Dame dominated the match, outshooting Ohio State 22-7 on the evening.  However, forward Rose Augustin hit the post twice and Julie Shiedler and Melissa Henderson also were denied by the frame as an inability to finish built frustration for a dominant Notre Dame side.  But Mandy Laddish ended Notre Dame’s frustration with an 82nd minute strike that sends Notre Dame through to the final.

It should have been 2-0 just two minutes later when Augustin went through on a breakaway.  She played a square ball to a wide open Elizabeth Tucker, but Baumgardner came up huge again with a point-blank breakaway save.  Ohio State failed to muster any decent second half chances and failed to advance to the final in its first College Cup appearance.

“I am extremely proud of the way the team played,” Notre Dame Head Coach Randy Waldrum said.  “We had some concerns early but they made adjustments.  The second half was very reminiscent of the typical Notre Dame teams that fans are used to seeing.”

Stanford 2-0 Boston College

Boston College was also making its first College Cup appearance, but failed to advance to the final after falling 2-0 to No. 1 ranked Stanford.  The Cardinal dominated the first half, firing seven shots toward net and preventing Boston College from getting a single shot off.  Despite the lopsided affair, Stanford failed to convert any of its chances, the best of which was Christen Press’ 26th minute shot that produced a point-blank save from BC goalkeeper Jillian Mastroianni.

However, Camille Levin opened the scoring in the 48th minute with a beautiful 18-yard strike that found the upper corner.  The breakthrough finally gave Stanford the lead, but the tide quickly turned.

Boston College out-shot Stanford 9-5 in the second half and looked like it would equalize in the 76th minute.  Kristie Mewis knocked down a powerful header to the back post and forced a diving save out of Stanford goalkeeper Emily Oliver.  Senior captain Hannah Cerrone was crashing the back post and looked to have an easy tap-in rebound, but she skied the ball over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.  Boston College’s best chance of the game went begging.

In the 87th minute, the game’s fate would be sealed.  Rushing to get the ball in play, Mastroianni played an errant short goal kick to Cerrone, who was unaware of how close Stanford striker Lindsay Taylor was to her.  Taylor stole the ball and went in alone against Mastroianni, beating her at the near post and capping a 2-0 victory for Stanford.

“I give credit to Boston College, I think they stayed up and were trying to put pressure and trying to get forward and get a goal,” Stanford Head Coach Paul Ratcliffe said.  “The game went in a few waves where they dominated for a little bit, and Emily Oliver actually made a great save for us.  Then after that I thought we started to come on stronger. It was just a matter of us being more aggressive up front and being more assertive in the final third.”

Notre Dame will now look for its third championship in its sixth appearance in the championship match.  Stanford enters its second-straight final after losing 1-0 to North Carolina last year.

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