So it all comes down to this. Two teams remain standing and by the end of the day a NCAA championship trophy will be on its way to Tallahassee or Westwood. For Florida State, it's a chance to make it a baker's dozen of NCAA titles (kind of surprising that a school we often think of related to athletics, predominately because of the football and baseball programs only has 13 national championships), while for UCLA, it's chance to extend their lead at the top of the chart with it's 110th title.
The Bruins arrive at the national championship following a heart-stopping come-from-behind win in penalty kicks over #1-seeded Virginia. After nearly giving the game away in the 73rd minute on a massive defensive blunder, the Bruins fought back for an equalizer in the 85th minute, forcing overtime, and eventually, thanks to huge saves from Katelyn Rowland, won it in penalties. But, that heart-pounding victory will all be for naught if the Lady Bruins aren't able to get a result today. Standing in their way are the Seminoles from Florida State, ironically led by two Icelandic strikers, an Irish defender, and a California native. Then again, our ladies don't exactly look like bears, so we could let the Seminole bit slide. Our preview of today's game is available in the archives here.
The NCAA's official website has a preview available here, which takes note of first-year UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell's familiarity with the Seminoles from her time coaching at Central Florida:
This is Cromwell’s first year with UCLA, after making the long trek west from a 14-year stint with Central Florida. While there, she became well familiar with Florida State’s style of play. Bruins assistant coach Josh Walters, who made the long trek west with Cromwell from Central Florida, served as the director of soccer operations for Florida State from 2010-2012.
They know the ‘Noles, know how they attack, how they defend, how they play the game of soccer. Come Sunday, the college women’s soccer world will find out just how much that familiarity meant.
"It’s funny we’re playing Florida State, coming from UCF," she continued. "We played them many times, every season basically, for the last 14 years when I was at UCF. I’m very familiar with that team. We will have the knowledge we need to have a good game plan."
Let's hope Coach Cromwell is able to draw up a map that leads to her bringing home the 110th national championship trophy home to Westwood. The game gets underway at noon PST on ESPNU. This is your women's soccer NCAA championship final open thread. Fire away in the comment thread with your observations, thoughts, etc. as we track our Lady Bruins' quest to bring UCLA its 110th NCAA national championship. Let's get it done Bruins.