Dec. 5, 2003
Cary, NC - The fourth-seeded UCLA women's soccer team fell to top-seeded North Carolina, 3-0 Friday afternoon in an NCAA Semifinal match-up at the 2003 College Cup at the SAS Soccer Park. With the loss, UCLA ends its season 20-2-3 overall. UNC improves to 26-0 and earns a spot in Sunday's final against UConn. The Huskies were 2-0 winners over No. 12 Florida State.
UNC scored its first goal off a corner kick at the 23:34 mark of the first half. Alyssa Ramsey sent a bending ball into the box that flew over the head of Bruin goalkeeper Arianna Criscione. Kendall Fletcher was able to get a body on it and slip it into the Bruin goal.
The Tar Heels went ahead 2-0 in the 29th minute on an own goal by UCLA. UNC sent a ball deep into Bruin territory that was run onto by senior defender Kat Lee. Lee managed to gain control and send the ball back to Criscione for clearance. Criscione, however, misplayed the ball while trying to clear it, allowing Lee's pass to dribble into the back of the Bruin net.
Despite a 2-0 halftime deficit, UCLA came out strong to start the second half, continually testing the UNC defense. The Bruins and Tar Heels played 40 minutes of scoreless soccer before UNC scored once more to put the game out of reach. In the 86th minute of action, Heather O'Reilly punched in a left-footed shot that bounced off the right post and in for a 3-0 UNC advantage.
"I'm very proud of how our team played the whole season, and what I told them after the game was that one game doesn't define you," said UCLA head coach Jillian Ellis. "We had a great year and I'm very proud of them. I congratulate North Carolina on a good game and wish them the best in the final."
UCLA's best chance to score came in the 13th minute when Lindsay Greco's shot forced UNC goalkeeper Aly Winget to make a diving save. Greco led the Bruins with three shots on the afternoon.
Friday marked the first goals the Bruins have given up during the NCAA Tournament, following four consecutive shutouts. UCLA finishes the season tying the school single-season records for victories (20) and shutouts (15).
It marks the second time that UCLA has fallen to UNC at the College Cup, as the Tar Heels defeated the Bruins, 2-1 in the 2000 NCAA Final. UCLA drops to 0-5 against UNC.
Like he did prior to UCLA's quarterfinal match-up against Penn State, five-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong called to wish the Bruins luck against UNC. UCLA has used Armstrong's story for inspiration this season, printing shirts that say, "Take Nothing for Granted."
Bruin seniors who played in their last collegiate match Friday included, Kathryn Lee, Whitney Jones, Nandi Pryce and Sarah-Gayle Swanson. Katherine Bjazevich and Jaclyn Harwood were also on hand Friday for the last match of their college careers.
The loss snaps UCLA's 11-game winning streak and 17-game unbeaten streak. UNC is the only team to beat the Bruins this year, also winning 5-2 back on Sept. 19 at the Duke/adidas Soccer Classic.
UCLA Bruins Post-Game Quotes
Head Coach Jillian Ellis:
"I'm very proud of how our team played the whole season, and what I told them after the game was that one game doesn't define you. We had a great year and I'm very proud of them. I congratulate North Carolina on a good game and wish them the best in the final."
On North Carolina's ability to come out strong and play as well as they did:
"Well, they're playing at home in front of their crowd. So, obviously, we expected them to come out like a buzzsaw and I think they did. I think we struggled to find our rhythm and weren't able to make passes. They [UNC] were playing for a lot, as were we, but I think that was the thing, that their pressure was just tremendous, and we often find ourselves doing that to other teams, but when you're on the receiving end, you tend to struggle and can't think quickly enough to deal with the pressure."
On falling behind 2-0 early on:
"Well, honestly, I think we gift-wrapped one of them. Then, with the first one, we struggled a little bit with our freshman [Arianna Criscione] in goal and when you have a freshman in a big game, that's a lot of pressure. The first goal, she called for it and it went off the back post and I think the girl [Kendall Fletcher] chested it in. I thought by halftime, we had shot ourselves in the foot a little bit, and against a good team, that's a big whole to climb out of. We knew we had an up-hill battle."
On whether not having that own goal would have changed the outcome:
"You'd like to have hoped that. Obviously, the margin was three, so maybe not. But if anyone's played a sport, and you score an own goal, it's like a kick in the stomach, and I think that was the gut-killer right there and to come back from that. But that's why, in the second half, I was pleased because I said we needed to go out there and win the second half, and we played with pride."
On the difference against UNC as opposed to Penn State:
"Well, it was a better opponent today, that was the difference. I thought Penn State was a good opponent, but Carolina, a little better. They [UNC] were able to put us under a lot of pressure and we weren't able to get our rhythm."
Junior Lindsay Greco on play of UNC:
"I think they caught us off guard a little bit, but we never gave up and we worked really hard."
Senior Nandi Pryce on play of UNC:
"I think player for player, we're very equal teams. We both have very good players on our teams. But, when you're in front of your home field with 8,000 or 10,000 people routing for you, wearing Carolina blue, it's going to make a difference. They came out with a lot of emotions today. I think that we were a little rattled at the beginning. I was really proud of my team today. They worked really hard and fought really hard today."