Nov. 29, 2008
LOS ANGELES - The top-seeded UCLA women's soccer team turned in the most dominating quarterfinal performance of this year's NCAA Tournament on Saturday, posting a 6-1 victory over third-seeded Duke before 1,797 fans at Drake Stadium. With the win, the Bruins (22-0-2) advance to their sixth straight College Cup and will meet North Carolina next Friday in Cary, NC.
"It's just clicking for us right now," said UCLA head coach Jillian Ellis of her team's effort on Saturday. "I thought all 11 players stepped up and were committed tonight. And I'm not just talking about the starters. This was a complete team effort, and I'm just so happy that we were able to advance to another College Cup."
UCLA took it to Duke from the start Saturday, scoring in just the fifth minute on a close-range strike from senior McCall Zerboni. Lauren Barnes hit a corner kick into the box that was volleyed toward the goal by midfielder Kylie Wright. Zerboni ran onto it, hitting a six-yard shot past Duke goalkeeper Cassidy Powers.
UCLA's lead didn't last for long, however, as the Blue Devils (15-6-3) tied things up at the 14:16 mark on KayAnne Gummersall's 15th goal of the season. Lorraine Quinn made a run down the left side of the field before sending in a perfect cross to Gummersall, who headed it in from about 10 yards out. It marked only the fifth goal given up by UCLA this year.
Despite surrendering their first goal of the NCAA Tournament, the Bruins showed no signs of being rattled, scoring two more goals in the half to take a 3-1 lead into the intermission. Junior Lauren Cheney put UCLA ahead 2-1 by heading in a corner kick from Lauren Wilmoth in the 18th minute. That goal was followed by a brilliant strike by Christina DiMartino in the 44th minute, as she scored on a 30-yard blast just before halftime.
UCLA outshot Duke 16-3 in the first half, constantly challenging Powers, who made 10 saves in the first 45 minutes.
Despite the two-goal advantage, the Bruins came out hungry in the second half, managing to score three more unanswered goals. Junior Kristina Larsen was the star of the second 45 minutes of play, scoring her team-leading 12th and 13th goals of the season. Her first goal came at the 58:40 mark, as she scored from near the top of the box following a blocked shot by Whitney Sharpe. Larsen struck again less than three minutes later on a through ball from Kara Lang.
"We got very hesitant tonight," said Duke head coach Robbie Church. "We gave up more set play goals that we have all year. A lot of that goes to UCLA's experience. I've seen a lot of the teams in the Final Four and this UCLA team is as good a team as I've seen in the country. I wouldn't bet against them next week in Cary."
Added Ellis, "(Advancing to the College Cup) is a great opportunity. This team has done a fantastic job this season. But we're not done yet. The goal of this program is to win a championship."
- UCLA completed the program's third straight undefeated home season on Saturday, pushing the nation's longest home unbeaten streak to 55 matches. The Bruins' last home loss was a 1-0 double-overtime defeat to Penn State back on Sept. 9, 2005.
- The six goals scored Saturday were the second most by UCLA this year following a 7-0 victory over Portland State on Sept. 1.
- UCLA is making its sixth straight appearance in the NCAA College Cup (Final Four). Only North Carolina has made more consecutive Final Four appearances (21 from 1982-2003).
- UCLA's 22 wins this season ties the school record for victories set in 2005.