Nov. 17, 2006
LOS ANGELES - After getting behind early, the second-seeded UCLA women's soccer team responded with three straight goals, eventually moving on to a 3-2 victory over third-seeded Florida in an NCAA Round of 16 showdown on Friday evening at Drake Stadium. With the win, the Bruins (20-3) advance to next week's quarterfinals and will meet the winner of Sunday's match between top-seeded Texas and unseeded Portland. If Portland wins, UCLA will host the Pilots on Friday, Nov. 24 at 6:00 p.m. A Texas victory assures that the match will be in Austin, as the Longhorns are the highest-seeded team in their quarter of the draw.
Florida (14-6-5) struck first in the match on a goal by Ashlee Elliott in just the fourth minute of play. Daniela Sanchez played the ball to Elliott, who launched a 25-yard shot into the top left corner of the goal, just past the outstretched hands of Bruin goalkeeper Valerie Henderson.
UCLA, however, struck back less than four minutes later, as the Gators were penalized for a hand ball in the box. Junior Danesha Adams buried the kick, her 12th goal of the season.
The Bruins would take a 2-1 lead at the 50:02 mark, as Cheney set a new UCLA freshman record with her 18th goal of the season. In nearly the same spot where Elliott scored her goal, Cheney took possession and did a 180-degree turn to beat her defender before hitting a 25-yard shot into the left corner. Cheney's 18th goal breaks the old mark of 17 set last season by Kara Lang.
Sophomore midfielder Christina DiMartino gave the Bruins a 3-1 advantage in the 66th minute, as her shot from just inside the top of the box deflected off a Gator defender and past Florida goalkeeper Brittni Goodwin. Cheney played the ball in to DiMartino, marking her first assist of the year.
The Gators made things interesting towards the end, scoring in the 88th minute to make it a one-goal game, as Stacy Bishop recorded her 12th goal of the year on a through ball up the middle from Shelley Lyle.
Things got even more exciting towards the very end, as Florida was awarded a free kick on the UCLA half of the field with just seconds remaining. The ball was sent into the box and headed up towards the goal by a Florida player, however Bruin midfielder Stacy Lindstrom jumped up to make an excellent save at the line, clearing the ball to secure the UCLA victory.
"They are very athletic and they gave us a lot of problems," said UCLA head coach Jillian Ellis. "It was a great match with both teams just slugging it out. It was a fantastic victory."
UCLA's win avenges a 1-0 loss to Florida in the NCAA Quarterfinals back in 2001. It marks the second year in a row and fourth time in program history that the Bruins have reached the 20-win mark. UCLA improves its record to 15-0 at home this season, pushing its home winning streak to 26. The Bruins won their last 14 NCAA Tournament matches at Drake Stadium.