No. 1 Stanford to face No. 2 North Carolina for women's soccer title

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sophia Smith scored three goals and Stanford's soccer team advanced to the NCAA Women's College Cup championship with a 4-1 victory over UCLA on Friday night.

The top-ranked Cardinal (23-1-0) will face No. 2 North Carolina (24-1-1) in Sunday's title game at Avaya Stadium. The Tar Heels beat Washington State 2-1 in the first semifinal.

Stanford, the Pac-12 Conference champion, has won 18 straight heading into the championship. The top-seeded Cardinal were making their 10th appearance in the College Cup.

Second-seeded UCLA (18-5-1) had won nine straight going into the semifinal, with the Bruins' last loss coming to Stanford.

Chloe Castaneda gave UCLA the early lead with a goal in the seventh minute. But the Cardinal answered with three goals in the opening half, including a pair from Smith and another from Carly Malatskey. Smith completed the hat trick with a goal in the 52nd minute.

In the first semifinal, UNC's Alexis Strickland scored the go-ahead goal on a header in the 38th minute.

Morgan Weaver had scored in the eighth minute to give the Cougars the early lead. It was Weaver's 15th goal of the season. Alessia Russo tied it in the 24th minute, and Strickland connected on a header off a cross from Ru Mucherera.

Washington State (16-7) bows out after becoming the first Cougars team to reach a Final Four in any sport.

North Carolina has been to the championship game 26 times and has won a record 22 national titles. The Tar Heels are the nation's only program to appear in all 38 NCAA Tournaments in women's soccer. Stanford has won two national championships.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.