Chapel Hill, N.C. - No. 2 seed UCLA defeated No. 1 seed North Carolina 1-0 in double overtime on a golden goal by Taylor Smith to advance to the NCAA College Cup for the ninth time in program history.
The victory was UCLA's first ever against the 21-time and reigning NCAA champion Tar Heels , who had eliminated the Bruins from the NCAA Tournament in four previous years.
First-year UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell, however, has orchestrated North Carolina's elimination in two of the last three years, having coached Central Florida to a Round of 16 win over the Tar Heels in 2011 and now the Bruins to a quarterfinal win in 2013.
Tonight's match was closely contested, with each team totaling 11 shots. The Bruins had eight of their 11 shots on goal, forcing UNC goalkeeper Anna Sieloff into a career-high seven saves. Bruin goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland had four saves to earn her school-record 14th shutout of the season.
The Bruins did not waste any time in the second overtime, scoring a minute and a half in. Sarah Killion sent a great through ball to Smith, whose shot was initially saved by Sieloff. Smith, however, followed through on the rebound, scoring far post to end the match. The goal was Smith's eighth of the season and third in the postseason.
"I saw Sarah look up at me, and we made eye contact, and she just played a great ball through" said Smith. "I had so many chances during the game, I just knew I was going to finish this one. I saw that the far post was open, and I tried to slot it and follow up my shot."
UCLA’s No. 1-ranked defense came through in a big way, allowing just four shots on goal, including one that junior defender Caprice Dydasco stuffed in the box off reigning MAC Hermann Trophy Player of the Year Crystal Dunn’s foot late in the first half.
"Tonight was a national championship-caliber game," said Cromwell. "I'm so proud of these girls. Earlier in the season that was our one loss, and UNC took it to us, and I think we came out tonight and showed how much better we've gotten over the course of the season. It was a great battle; it was two great teams."
UCLA, which successfully broke up the No. 1-seed and All-ACC party, will face Virginia, Cromwell's alma mater, in the semifinals in Cary, N.C. on Friday, Dec. 6.