Dec. 5, 2004
By EMERY P. DALESIO
Associated Press Writer
CARY, N.C. - Notre Dame goalkeeper Erika Bohn faced her first penalty kick of the season Sunday, and the stakes could not have been higher: Just a few minutes were left in the NCAA women's soccer title game.
Bohn jumped to her left and turned aside Kendal Billingsley's waist-high shot from 12 yards away to preserve a 1-1 tie in regulation.
"It's a pressure situation, but I just went with my gut," Bohn said. "After I saved it, I knew we weren't going to lose."
The tie stood up after 110 minutes of regulation and overtime, and Notre Dame won its second NCAA title when Bohn turned away Lindsay Greco's shot to seal a 4-3 victory on penalty kicks.
Jill Krivacek made the winning shot for the Fighting Irish (24-1-1), who also won the national title in 1995 and joined North Carolina as the only multiple champions.
UCLA (18-7) led 1-0 in the 60th minute on Gudrun Gunnarsdottir's own-goal when her intended back-pass to Bohn went past the charging goalie and into the empty Irish net.
Notre Dame tied it on Katie Thorlakson's penalty kick in the 74th after she was arm-tackled inside the penalty area.
The action was end-to-end throughout, but UCLA coach Jillian Ellis said the game hinged on the late penalty kick save by Bohn, who was honored as the Final Four's most outstanding defensive player.
"Two penalty kicks were called (in regulation), and we didn't put ours away," Ellis said. "You get those chances, you've got to put them away."
The Irish had outscored their five previous tournament opponents 11-1, while the Bruins had nothing but shutouts in outscoring their foes 9-0.
Notre Dame was making its fourth trip to the championship game. The Irish lost in 1994, 1996 and 1999 - each time to North Carolina. UCLA's only previous NCAA women's soccer final came in 2000, when the Bruins lost 2-1 to North Carolina.
Notre Dame created repeated chances, calmly passing through tight spaces in the midfield and attacking down the flanks.
UCLA goalkeeper Valerie Henderson was forced to confront Irish attackers by charging from her line and hitting the ground to block shots with her body.
The Bruins supplemented their defense by taking advantage of long-range shots. One good chance came about 15 minutes before halftime, when Bristyn Davis - the Bruins' leading scorer with 14 goals and six assists - laced a shot that caromed off the crossbar from 30 yards out.
Thorlakson, who led the country with 23 goals this season, was voted the most outstanding offensive player of the Final Four.
"I'm not a very emotional person on the outside, but as soon as the whistle blew, I just started crying," she said.