UPDATE FOR SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Game airs live on ESPNU at 7:30 pm CT (5:30 pm local time). If you don’t have cable access to ESPNU, the games will also stream via Hulu (1-month free trial), YouTube TV (7-day free trial) and Sling (currently 40% off). Note that these games will NOT be available via ESPN Plus. You can watch the games on the ESPN app *only* if you have cable or other streaming authentication.
This is the first time since 2008-2009 that North Carolina has appeared in back-to-back NCAA championship games (and they won the title in both 2008 and 2009). It’s the 26th appearance overall in the final for the Tar Heels (21 previous titles and 4 runner-up finishes, not counting the AIAW tournament that preceded existence of the NCAA tournament).
Today is Stanford’s 5th appearance in the final (2 previous titles and 2 runner-up finishes), and it’s the second time the Cardinal has faced North Carolina in the final (Stanford lost 1-0 to UNC in 2009).
And then there were four.
The 2019 Div1 NCAA Women’s College Cup, aka The Final Four, kicks off Friday in San Jose, California. Three of the four teams are College Cup “veterans” – North Carolina (29th appearance), UCLA (10th appearance) and Stanford (10th appearance) – while Washington State makes its Final Four debut this year. Tickets are on sale for the semifinals and championship game, all to be played at Avaya Stadium.
The Tar Heels face Washington State in the first semifinal at 6 pm CT, followed by a rematch of the 2017 championship game with UCLA playing Stanford at 8:30 pm CT. Both games air live on ESPNU. If you don’t have cable access to ESPNU, the games will also stream via Hulu (1-month free trial), YouTube TV (7-day free trial) and Sling (currently 40% off). Note that these games will NOT be available via ESPN Plus. You can watch the games on the ESPN app *only* if you have cable or other streaming authentication.
Friday semifinal #1
North Carolina vs. Washington State
6 pm CT (4 pm local time)
No team has featured in the Final Four more than than the Tar Heels, and they reached this year’s semifinals by defeating USC 3-2 last weekend in Chapel Hill. The Carolina goals were scored by Maycee Bell, Emily Fox and Brianna Pinto, all of whom were named to the December USWNT camp (although Fox will not participate, as she suffered a knee injury in the quarterfinal against USC).
Meanwhile Washington State has been on a tremendous run of upsets to reach the College Cup for the first time. The unseeded Cougars eliminated #1 seed Virginia on the road in the round of 32, and then demolished 2016 College Cup semifinalist West Virginia 3-0 two days later. A tight contest at South Carolina in the quarterfinals was ultimately decided by a golden goal by sophmore Mykiaa Minniss.
Friday semifinal #2
UCLA vs. Stanford
6 pm CT (4 pm local time)
It’s an all Pac-12 semifinal in the second game, as well as a rematch of the 2017 NCAA championship game. That time, Stanford edged UCLA 3-2 to win their second women’s soccer national title. Four members of The Cardinal’s roster were called up to the December USWNT camp — Naomi Girma, Madison Haley, Kiara Pickett and Sophia Smith. And of course Stanford’s most well-known soccer alumna Julie Foudy will be on the call for the match.
UCLA is coached by former USWNT midfielder Amanda Cromwell (1995 Women’s World Cup, alternate for 1996 Olympics), who led the Bruins to their first-ever women’s national title (and 110th title overall for the school) in 2013, her first year in charge. Six players from that 2013 squad would go on to be drafted into the NWSL in 2015 – Sarah Killion, Samantha Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, Katelyn Rowland, Megan Oyster and Caprice Dydasco. All six are still in the league and for the most part regular starters for their clubs. Their teammate Darian Jenkins was drafted in 2017.
The College Cup in San Jose
This is the fourth time that the city of San Jose has hosted the women’s College Cup. The city set the record (that still stands) for College Cup attendance when it first hosted the event at San Jose’s Spartan Stadium in 1999. A total of 14,006 fans watched the semifinal doubleheader of North Carolina (featuring 1999 Women’s World Cup champ Lorrie Fair) against Penn State (led by Christie Welsh, who later played for the New York Power in the WUSA) and Notre Dame (coached by Randy Waldrum) versus Santa Clara (featuring Danielle Slaton and Nikki Serlenga, who would both go on to play for the USA at the 2000 Olympics). And a crowd of 14,410 watched North Carolina defeat Notre Dame in the final.
Spartan Stadium hosted again in 2000, with semifinal matchups of North Carolina (featuring Cat Whitehill) versus Notre Dame and UCLA (coached by Jill Ellis) against Portland. The final saw North Carolina win its WHAT title in a 2-1 win over UCLA. Just five months later, Spartan Stadium hosted the first-ever home game for the Bay Area CyberRays of the WUSA, with 1999 World Cup champions Brandi Chastain and Tisha Venturini plus Brazilian stars Sissi and Katia headlining the team.
The women’s College Cup did not return to San Jose again until 2016, after the opening of the San Jose Earthquakes’ soccer-specific venue, Avaya Stadium. The 2016 event saw West Virginia defeat perennial contender North Carolina in the semifinal in the Moutaineers’ first-ever College Cup appearance. USC beat Georgetown, another Final Four debutant, in the other semifinal. USC (featuring current NWSL players Katie Johnson and Morgan Andrews) went on to win its second national title in women’s soccer with a 3-1 win over West Virginia.