CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Chioma Ubogagu fired in a left-footed shot at 99:00 to give No. 6 Stanford a 1-0 overtime victory against No. 4 North Carolina in a season opener Friday night, ending years of futility against the Tar Heels.
The victory, before 4,509 at Fetzer Field, was Stanford’s first against North Carolina in 13 tries.
The decisive sequence began when Maddie Bauer took a free kick from midfield that was deflected toward Alex Doll,who pushed the ball wide to Ubogagu just outside the box. Ubogagu spun right, beat three defenders toward the end line and squeezed in a shot to the near post.
The result brought an end to Stanford’s struggles against North Carolina, which now owns a 9-1-3 series edge and beat the Cardinal in the 2009 NCAA final and the 2012 double-overtime semifinal.
Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe chose not to delve into the past when asked to reflect on the match.
“It’s a significant victory,” he said. “But right now, our focus is on this game. I’m really proud of the team. It was a great way to start the season. They deserved to get the victory. Hopefully, it will propel us to a really strong season.”
The goal came one minute before the end of the first 10-minute overtime period and moments after Ubogagu and Taylor Uhl each barely missed wide. But it was evident the Stanford attack was clicking.
“I knew we were going to get another chance,” Ratcliffe said. “We just had to finish. Then Chi made a great move and scored a great goal.”
The shot came from a tight angle. North Carolina goalkeeper Lindsay Harris appeared to have it covered, but let it run past her, apparently because she thought it was going wide, which Tar Heels' coach Anson Dorrance confirmed in a postmatch press conference.
The match came in the Carolina Nike Classic, was aired on ESPN3 and was the marquee matchup on the opening day of the women’s season.
Stanford started all three members of the U.S. national team that recently concluded play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Goalkeeper Jane Campbell, outside back Stephanie Amack, and freshman holding midfielder Andi Sullivan arrived at Stanford on Monday from Canada and each were superb with little time to adjust.
Sullivan, a U.S. U-20 co-captain, had only one full day of training at Stanford before the team left for Carolina on Wednesday. Still, Sullivan’s control and leadership were vital as Stanford rebounded from a sluggish first half in her collegiate debut.
“When you play North Carolina, they bring so much pressure, you have to weather the storm in the first half,” Ratcliffe said. “We were able to calm things down in the second and keep better possession. The later it got, the better our chances were.”
As for Sullivan, “Andi was incredible,” Ratcliffe said. “She’s the type of player we’re going to look to. She fits into the program so well, I wasn’t surprised at her impact. You never really know until you see them in a big-game atmosphere, but she was so composed.”
The Cardinal was outshot 7-1 in the first 45 minutes and Campbell was forced into five saves. But the rest of the match was played evenly, with Campbell coming up huge in the 76th minute.
After Stanford gave up possession at midfield, North Carolina’s Alex Kimball was through on a breakaway. Campbell closed the angle and dived to her right to snatch Kimball’s scorching shot out of midair.
Campbell handled everything the Tar Heels had to offer, even closing down on Tar Heels’ star Summer Green late in regulation, to force her into a point-blank miss, helping to solidify her seventh career shutout.
“Jane was fantastic,” said Ratcliffe, who also praised the entire defense, including Kendall Romine in the middle and freshman sub Jaye Boissiere in the midfield.
Stanford continues tournament play Sunday (1 p.m. ET) in Chapel Hill against No. 18 Duke in a rematch of the 2011 NCAA final, won by the Cardinal, 1-0. This is their first matchup since.
“This was a great team win,” Ratcliffe said. “But it’s going to take a good performance against Duke on Sunday to make the weekend complete.”