Much like the 1985 national championship team, the 1990 squad won UCLA's second NCAA championship with defense.
The Bruins blazed into the NCAA playoffs having outscored opponents 14-3 in the final three games. After a first round bye, they defeated San Diego 2-1 on a Joe-Max Moore goal in overtime. In the quarterfinals, UCLA, behind redshirt freshman goalkeeper Brad Friedel, shut out SMU 2-0 to advance to the Final Four.
Once in Tampa, FL for the Final Four, however, UCLA's, as well as its opponents', offense vanished. Despite being outshot 33-14 by its semifinal opponent North Carolina State, UCLA held ground and kept the game scoreless after regulation play and two 15-minute overtime periods. This was done even while playing the final 28 minutes down a man after senior defender Ray Fernandez was ejected. In the penalty shootout, UCLA scored on penalty kicks by Tim Gallegos, Moore, Sam George, Chris Henderson and last-minute substitute Mark Sharp. The Wolfpack converted three kicks, with Friedel deflecting a shot by Scott Schweitzer for the game-saver.
With the victory, the Bruins advanced to the championship game against Rutgers. Once again, a defensive battle ensued, with both teams going scoreless.