CARY, N.C. — The Stanford women’s soccer team may have been in a familiar place Friday in the College Cup national semifinals. But it didn’t take long for the Cardinal to find itself in an uncomfortable predicament against Florida State.
After trailing for 7½ minutes all season, the defending national champions surrendered two first-half goals and never recovered on the way to a 2-0 loss to the Seminoles before a capacity crowd of 10,439 at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The result snapped Stanford’s school-record 45-game unbeaten streak and ended its chance at becoming the second school in the 37-year history of this event to win back-to-back women’s titles.
“Our game plan was to strike first and get the early lead,” senior midfielder Jordan DiBiasi said. “When we went down, I thought that maybe we didn’t solve or finish our chances in the first half, and we started getting a little frustrated.”
It wasn’t a good day for unbeaten teams. Not only did Stanford go down to defeat, but Georgetown did, too, losing 1-0 to North Carolina in Friday’s first game. The Tar Heels and Seminoles (19-4-3) will play Sunday for the championship.
The Cardinal (21-1-2) never seemed to get comfortable in a performance coach Paul Ratcliffe described as flat.
Although Stanford outshot Florida State 12-11, only one was on goal, making things easy for Seminoles keeper Caroline Jeffers.
Cardinal goalie Alison Jahansouz, on the other hand, had a first half to forget by allowing more goals in one 45-minute period than she had in her four previous NCAA tournament games combined.
There wasn’t much she could do on the first Seminoles score, netted by midfielder Gabby Carle on an inspired effort in which she split two defenders and dribbled across the top of the box to create space before rocketing home a left-footed shot at the 28-minute mark.
As damaging as that goal was, the next one knocked Stanford back even more.
Florida State’s Malia Berkely, who had not scored all year, sent what appeared to be a harmless chip toward the net. But instead of a routine save, Jahansouz’s attempt to punch the ball away didn’t make it over the crossbar, sending it into the net.
“The second goal was the one that really deflated us, because it was an unfortunate mistake,” Ratcliffe said. “Then it’s hard when you’re down against a team that’s good in possession. They can just play keep-away a little bit.”
The Cardinal’s best chance in the second half came with just under 11 minutes remaining when leading scorer Catarina Macario sent a free kick into the box that DiBiasi headed over the net. The only Stanford shot on goal came late in the first half when Michelle Xiao’s attempt from close range was deflected away with a one-handed save.
“Confidence levels never came around,” Ratcliffe said. “It was just one of those quiet performances, unfortunately.”
After injuries to key players, national team call-ups and other forms of adversity, the Cardinal picked a bad time to have its worst game of the year.
“It hurts,” senior defender Alana Cook said. “But I think we’re going to look back on all the fond memories we’ve gained this season.”
Brett Friedlander is a freelance writer.