The Stanford Cardinal won their second consecutive NCAA Tournament Championship on Sunday, December 11 after a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Wake Forest. Neither team could find the back of the net after 120 minutes and it all came down to the lottery of the shootout. This is the second ever championship for Stanford; they have won it in back to back years after previously going without a championship throughout the program’s entire history.
Looking Back at Stanford’s Second Straight College Cup Title
This Stanford team took everyone by surprise to even make it all the way to the final. Having lost Jordan Morris and Brandon Vincent to MLS, the Cardinal understandably struggled at first. They did not register their first win until the fifth game of the season and managed to hoist the trophy without scoring a single goal in the College Cup. Stanford beat Pacific, Virginia and Louisville on their way to the College Cup. There, they disposed of North Carolina 10-9 on penalties after it had ended 0-0.
On the other hand, Wake Forest established themselves as a top team from the start of the season. They earned the second overall seed in the tournament and boasted Mac Hermann Trophy finalist Ian Harkes in their lineup. The Demon Deacons made the most of their home field advantage in the tournament. They breezed past Coastal Carolina, SIU Edwardsville and Virginia Tech in order to reach the College Cup. In the semi-finals, the aforementioned Harkes scored a golden goal as Wake Forest defeated Denver 2-1 in overtime.
Stanford will defend their back-to-back titles next season with most of the same squad, having had only three seniors. Wake Forest will lose eight seniors including Harkes, but there is no doubt they will field a strong team again next season. Look for these two teams to be in the thick of things again come this time next year.