Duke, Stanford reach soccer final
KENNESAW, Ga. -- Mollie Pathman scored two second-half goals and Duke beat Wake Forest 4-1 on Friday night to advance to the women's College Cup final.
Reserve forward Molly Lester and Kaitlyn Kerr also scored for the Blue Devils (22-3-1), who will face top-ranked Stanford on Sunday in the NCAA Division I title game.
"At this venue, the field is wider so there's more space to be played. I thought both teams got stretched out and didn't play as compact as they should, especially early," Duke coach Robbie Church said. "We did a good job of changing the point of attack and finding our wide players. That really opened the field up for us."
Rachel Nuzzolese converted a free kick for Wake Forest (18-4-4), which hadn't allowed more than two goals in a game all season long.
Nuzzolese's second-half goal got the Demon Deacons within one, but Duke responded 2 minutes later, taking advantage of a favorable call.
Riley Ridgik was penalized while marking Kerr in the penalty box. Television replays indicated Ridgik was making a play on the ball before both players went down about 18 yards in front of the goal.
Pathman's penalty kick -- the first attempted by Duke all season, and the first allowed all season by Wake -- gave the Blue Devils a 3-1 lead.
"That girl was fouling me the whole game. I was kind of on a breakaway," Kerr said. "Earlier in the game she pushed me with a two-handed shove, and I went to the ref, like, 'What can you do? That was a foul.' And he said, 'Yeah, I know it was a foul. Keep playing.'
"She kept on doing it and doing it and doing it, and they weren't calling it. She came in hard and got my legs. (The penalty) was deserved."
Kerr, a sophomore midfielder, became Duke's leading scorer in NCAA action when she sealed the victory with her sixth tournament goal. She has five goals in the tournament this season.
"We recruit the same girls. It's a rivalry," Wake Forest coach Tony da Luz said. "It's pretty heated, and it's getting more heated. Duke's a good, physical team. That's one of their trademarks."
The Blue Devils and Cardinal are seeking their first national title in women's soccer.
Stanford (24-0-1) advanced with a 3-0 win over Florida State, getting a goal and an assist from freshman Chioma Ubogagu.
Florida State (18-7-1) controlled the action for much of the first 20-plus minutes, but Stanford grabbed control with an impressive stretch midway through the first half.
Mariah Noqueria cleared an FSU corner kick with a strong header toward midfield in the 22nd minute. Obogagu won the ball for a breakaway, leading to all the offense Stanford would need.
The direction of Noqueria's header might have been lucky, but the rest of the play was not.
"You're basically just clearing the ball defensively," Cardinal coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "We just caught them on the counter. The first 20 minutes, it was a difficult game for us. We had to weather a few storms."
Obogagu beat FSU forward Tiffany McCarty to the ball, and her path to the goal was nearly clear once McCarty fell near midfield. The Seminoles had just one defender back, and Obogagu moved her off line with a pass to midfielder Teresa Noyola as she raced to catch up from the right flank.
Seminoles midfielder Kristin Grubka caught up to the play, but had to slide to brake as Obogagu shifted to her right after taking the ball back from Noyola. Following a quick dribble, Obogagu fired between the legs -- intentionally, she said -- of FSU goalkeeper Kelsey Wys from 10 yards for her 10th goal of the season.
"We work a lot ... on transition so I think a lot of it is realizing you have more time than you think," Obogagu said. "I just tried to be calm."
Emily Oliver earned her 11th shutout for Stanford.
Florida State coach Mark Krikorian had his backs play forward early. The idea was to pressure a Stanford team that had allowed just 13 combined shots on goal and one score in the previous six games.
"We wanted to get some opportunities on their goalkeeper; not many teams had really tested her much," said Krikorian, whose team won the ACC tournament.
"We thought if we let them dictate play and control tempo, then we would be chasing the game a lot ... that was the reason for that."
Duke and Wake Forest faced off for the third time this season. Duke won 2-0 at Wake Forest on Oct. 20 but fell 2-1 to the Demon Deacons in the ACC Tournament on Nov. 4.
The Demon Deacons pressured the Blue Devils early in the game, but Lester put Duke in front midway through the first half when she connected off a corner kick from midfielder Nicole Lipp.
Pathman's first score gave Duke a 2-0 lead in the 57th minute.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press