After a long, emotional and highlight-reel-filled 2019 women’s college soccer season came to a close, it was only right for the season to end in one of the highest and most nail-biting ways.
On Sunday, the NCAA Women's College Cup 2019 final took place in San Jose, California, between North Carolina and Stanford. Two powerhouse teams that share several USWNT players as well as potential NWSL draft picks faced off on the biggest pitch of their collegiate careers. Both teams were not unfamiliar with the national championship stage and the pressure and excitement that came with it.
UNC has made 26 national appearances and has only lost five times. One of those five times came last year when it fell short against Florida State for the national title.
As for Stanford, it missed out on its opportunity last year, but in 2017 it took home its second national title. Even though UNC has found itself in the final game multiple times they yet again fell short this year in the final, making it its fifth loss out of its 26 appearances.
A thriller of a game between two high-quality teams ended in a 0-0 stand still through full time. Both teams had equal opportunities during regulation as well as overtime where a Golden Goal was needed to solidify a win. The Cardinals outshot the Tar Heels 21-12 while also having 14 corner kicks to North Carolina’s three. However, neither team could finish and when the final whistle blew after double OT, fans were inching to the edge of their seats as their stress levels sky rocketed.
The worst way to end an important game, PKs also made it anybody’s game. The mentality quickly changes from a game of hard work, chemistry and making sure every decision, touch and shot for 90-120 minutes are on point to a 10-15 minute shootout to see who can handle the pressure and place a ball in the back of the net from 12 yards out.
Sounds easier said than done, but being in front of a large crowd and stepping up while people are screaming, trying to distract you and the pressure of not letting down your team are all challenges these 18-22-year-olds faced.
And instead of writing about the emotions and nail-biting moments of the NCAA Women's College Cup 2019 final, just watch and feel them yourself:
Relive the entire PK shootout of the National Championship.
— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) December 9, 2019
Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer proved to be a boss in net after saving two shots to help lead Stanford over UNC in PKs. Then to solidify the national title, Kiara Pickett drilled home the final PK, putting Stanford at a final 5-4. The chills and emotions are felt across the board for both teams that played their hearts out for 120+ minutes.
As for Stanford, it went home celebrating with its third national championship and some new hardware to add to its trophy case.
LFG BABY!! @StanfordWSoccer national champs!!!! Incredible. So fun to watch. Thanks for making this alumna proud— Kelley O'Hara (@kelleymohara) December 9, 2019
— Stanford Women's Soccer (@StanfordWSoccer) December 9, 2019