Dec. 1, 2001
Dallas, Texas - UCLA's run in the NCAA Tournament came to an end on Wescott Field Saturday night, as the top-seeded and undefeated SMU Mustangs defeated the Bruins, 1-0.
The Bruins faced tremendous pressure from SMU's offense throughout the entire game, and the Mustangs finally broke through in the 76th minute. With UCLA down a man after Ryan Futagaki was red-carded for a foul on Ugo Ihemelu in the 72nd minute, Mohamed Fahim scored the game's only goal from deep in the box.
UCLA valiantly fought for the equalizer, but it never came.
"As a group, we're disappointed," said UCLA head coach Todd Saldana. "I feel like we've played better matches. We sat back a little and got into a defensive shell. Right before halftime, the game started to turn in our direction, but playing a man down forced us to be a defensive team. It took us too long to get going offensively."
"Our offensive plan was to attack on the width," said forward Tim Pierce. "When we were down a man, we were forced to play up high. We were playing a defensive shell just hoping for that one opportunity."
The Bruins dodged a bullet just half a minute before the red card. With 19:26 to play in the contest, the Mustangs were awarded a penalty kick after Fahim was fouled in the penalty area. Hermann Trophy candidate Diego Walsh took the penalty kick, but his shot was saved by a diving Zach Wells.
"I was basically reading his stance," explained Wells. "He changed his stance just before he took the kick, and I guessed where he was going."
"It was the best thing that could have happened to us at the time," said defender Alex Yi. "The foul was unfortunate, and we needed Zach to step up. His save was tremendous."
Wells ended the game with six saves, breaking the school record for saves in a season (101). SMU goalkeeper Byron Foss had five saves.
UCLA ends its season with a 12-7-4 record. SMU improves to 21-0-0 and moves on to face eighth-seeded St. John's in the quarterfinals.