April 7, 2007
The second-ranked Bruins improved to 20-1 overall and 9-0 in MPSF conference play with a 8-7 victory over the Women of Troy on a cloudy Saturday afternoon at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. USC falls to 14-4 overall and 7-2 in the conference.
The Women of Troy were looking for retribution for last year's championship game as well as an early-season defeat in the championship of the Stanford Invitational. UCLA won both games by just one goal. But the Bruins were looking to complete their third consecutive season without a loss at home and send their five seniors out in style.
Inspired to win for the seniors, the Bruins burst out of the gate to take a 3-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Senior Kacy Kunkel tapped in a pass from Gabrielle Domanic to create the biggest lead of the whole game for either team.
But then the Women of Troy came roaring back to tie the game 3-3 just a minute into the second quarter. Patty Cardenas scored her second goal of the game from five meters out on the left side to even the score. UCLA regained their poise and scored the next two goals to take a 5-3 lead, but shortly thereafter, Erika Figge brought the Women of Troy back to within one.
Patty Cardenas netted her third goal of the game to bring the Women of Troy even with 5:43 left to play in the third. USC then took their first lead of the game when Brittany Hayes backhanded the ball into the roof of the net.
UCLA fought back to regain the lead with goals by Courtney Mathewson and Kelly Rulon. The Bruins extended their lead to 8-6 when Brittany Rowe found a wide-open Courtney Mathewson near the USC goal with just seven ticks left on the clock in the third quarter. Mathewson is no stranger to clutch shots with the time running down. She scored with one second on the clock in the fourth quarter of last year's NCAA championship game to clinch the title for the Bruins.
UCLA's stingy defense held USC scoreless for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter until Erika Figge scored on a five-meter penalty shot with 1:49 to play in the game. The Bruins held off a few more USC attacks, and then Katie Rulon stole the ball on the final USC possession to seal the victory. Emily Feher had seven saves in the second half to preserve UCLA's lead.
The five seniors have certainly left their mark on a tradition of excellence over the last few years. In the last three years, they have led their team to a 72-5 overall mark, and a 32-1 MPSF record. The team just completed their third consecutive undefeated season at home. This is the fourth consecutive victory over the Trojans, dating back to last season's MPSF conference tournament.
Next Saturday the Bruins travel to Palo Alto to take on the top-ranked Stanford Cardinal in a match that which will have large implications in deciding the MPSF regular season conference champion. On Sunday, they will take on another MPSF foe in San Jose State University.
UCLA Goals: Courtney Mathewson 3, Anne Belden, Gabrielle Domanic, Jillian Kraus, Kelly Rulon, Kacy Kunkel
UCLA Saves: Emily Feher 10
USC Goals: Patty Cardenas 3, Erika Figge 2, Brittany Hayes, Michelle Stein
USC Saves: Tumua Anae 8