Sept. 23, 2004
A new era in UCLA soccer could not have gotten off to a better start than it did in 2002. Under first-year head coach Tom Fitzgerald, the Bruins captured its first Pac-10 championship and its fourth NCAA title.
The Bruins made it to the College Cup thanks to a blistering offense that scored 14 goals in three games but then won the championship thanks to a stingy defense that shut out Stanford in the title game.
The Bruins' path to the College Cup ran through two teams that had beaten them earlier in the season. UCLA first disposed of Loyola Marymount 4-2 in the NCAA second round, then California 3-2 in the third round. A 7-0 drubbing of Penn State in the quarterfinals landed the Bruins in the College Cup for the second time in four years.
UCLA's semifinal opponent was top-seeded Maryland, and like in the other two matchups against top-ranked teams during the season, the Bruins were up for the challenge. UCLA got on the boards first with a Matt Taylor goal off an Adolfo Gregorio assist in the 75th minute, but Maryland came back to equalize in the 81st minute. Just one minute later, Cliff McKinley was taken down in the penalty box by Maryland keeper Noah Palmer, and Gregorio scored the ensuing penalty kick and game-winning goal.
In the championship game, UCLA had another matchup with conference rival Stanford, the two teams' third meeting of the year. This game would be no different, as the Bruins won by the same 1-0 score they had won by in the previous two matchups.
Both teams had good scoring opportunities in the game. Stanford had a header cleared off the line by Jimmy Frazelle in the early minutes, and Ryan Futagaki had a hard shot ricochet off the left post in the 31st minute.
Tony Lawson presented President George W. Bush a UCLA jersey.
But all things changed in the 89th minute. Ty Maurin was fouled in near the left corner with the Bruins on the attack and earned a free kick for UCLA. Futagaki's perfectly-placed free kick found Aaron Lopez, who one-timed the ball past Stanford goalie Robby Fulton into the top right corner with 1:02 remaining on the clock for the championship-winning goal. Lopez was named the MVP of the College Cup, and teammates Zach Wells, who earned the shutout in the title match; Gregorio, Taylor and Scot Thompson received All-Tournament acclaim.