UCLA defeats Alabama 3-0 to advance to Women's College Cup final
UCLA blanks Alabama, advances to national title game
In a game that was defined by each team's ability to finish, UCLA coasted to a 3-0 win over Alabama in the second women's soccer semifinal. The Crimson Tide came into the College Cup boasting the country's highest-scoring offense but were shut out for just the third time all season, as their opportunities in front of goal were either wasted or ran into UCLA's goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy. Alabama finished with seven shots on target and a handful of others that just whistled past either post.
Once the second half began and Alabama committed more to the attack, the Bruins took advantage of the space left behind through the pace of their forward line. There were several attacks in the first 20 minutes after halftime in which UCLA had acres of space to run into and create goal-scoring chances. That's exactly how each of the second-half goals came about, two gut-punching goals in a span of 66 seconds. Both goals were unassisted and a showcase of UCLA's quality.
Though they were never expected to reach this stage in the first place, this 2022 Alabama team will be remembered for the program-defining run it made. The Tide entered 2022 with one NCAA tournament win in its history and finished the year with 23 total wins and a College Cup berth.
With the win, the Bruins set up a rematch with North Carolina in the national championship game on Monday. When they last met in September, UCLA left Chapel Hill with a 2-1 win.
Here are the stats from full-time:
😮💨 McMahon and Desiano score in quick succession, UCLA leads 3-0
GOAL 54' UCLA 3-0 Alabama: UCLA has been taking full advantage of a stretched Alabama defense for the last few minutes and finally cashed in, twice. First, Quincy McMahon controlled the ball on the right side of the penalty area and cut inside, dribbling past a defender before unleashing the shot that may have taken a minor deflection on the way into Crone's left-hand corner.
Just two minutes later, Madelyn Desiano one-upped her teammate on the highlight reel with an incredible run in behind, switching the ball onto her left foot and lashing one in from just inside the 18-yard box. The Bruins lead 3-0 and the Alabama defense has now conceded more times tonight than they had in any game this season.
54' I A pair of back-to-back goals extends the Bruins lead!— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) December 3, 2022
(1) @AlabamaSoccer - 0
(1) @UCLAWSoccer - 3
📺 ESPNU #WCollegeCup pic.twitter.com/6trqmrO56J
UCLA began this game as the stronger side, as the Bruins had 10 shots in the first half and put seven on frame. For as many spectacular saves as McKinley Crone could make in the first half, that sustained pressure was bound to break the Crimson Tide's defense eventually. UCLA finally unlocked the defense after a half hour, and the key was Reilyn Turner.
The Tide had its moments before Turner's opener, including a pattern of play that resulted in Riley Mattingly Parker's disallowed goal midway through the first half. The offside flag was raised immediately but the margin was thin, so this game was just inches from being knotted at one apiece.
Here's a look at halftime stats from WakeMed Soccer Park:
🚨 UCLA leads through Reilyn Turner
GOAL 30' UCLA 1-0 Alabama: It's Reilyn Turner, yet again. The Bruins' star forward notches her 10th goal of the year by popping up just a few yards from goal to meet a Quincy McMahon low cross. UCLA has dominated the early part of this game and deserve the lead, but the Crimson Tide will be wondering what could have been had Riley Mattingly Parker stayed onside for her disallowed goal just minutes earlier.
Give @QuincyMcMahon13 her flowers for getting @reilynturner that ball in front of goal to give UCLA the 1-0 lead in the NCAA semifinal!— UCLA Women's Soccer (@UCLAWSoccer) December 3, 2022
📲: https://t.co/tVgOKnyubp#GoBruins pic.twitter.com/yE0ClOTVjq
Alabama GK Crone making crucial early saves
The opening stages of the national semifinal between UCLA and Alabama have been largely dominated by the Bruins, who have registered four shots on goal in 14 minutes. But they have all been met by the hands (and feet!) of Alabama's McKinley Crone, who has been the early star of this game.
Here's a look at her incredible double save on Lexi Wright, not to mention her stop of a Sunshine Fontes free kick, as well.
8' | First Half— Alabama Soccer (@AlabamaSoccer) December 3, 2022
Back-to-back saves from McKinley Crone!! 🙅♀️🙅♀️
📺ESPNU#RollTide #WCollegeCup pic.twitter.com/AAvdAUcQbj
How to watch Alabama vs. UCLA semifinal
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina
How to watch: ESPNU broadcast| Stream on ESPN+ (subscription required)
Previewing Alabama vs. UCLA
Based on each program's history, this may look like a David vs. Goliath kind of mismatch. But on the pitch, Alabama against UCLA has the makings of a fascinating matchup. The Crimson Tide has never reached this stage, but after an SEC regular season championship, a program-record 23 wins this season and 76 goals to lead the nation, perhaps the Bruins have the look of the underdog.
Leading the line for Alabama is Riley Mattingly Parker, who was named as a semifinalist for the Mac Hermann Trophy and set Alabama records with 41 points, 17 goals and seven game-winners. Felicia Knox will look to provide the service to Parker to add to her DI-best tally of 20 assists. At the back, the Tide boast another Hermann Trophy semifinalist in Reyna Reyes, who even contributed to the attack, scoring the game-winner in overtime of Alabama's quarterfinal win over Duke. As the last line of defense, goalkeeper McKinley Crone brings over 100 games of collegiate soccer experience between the sticks.
On their previous visit to the east coast, the Bruins pulled off two road wins over then-No. 2 Duke and then No. 1 North Carolina, each by 2-1 scorelines. The stellar road trip propelled them to a unanimous No. 1 ranking in the United Soccer Coaches poll, a spot they held for the remainder of the regular season. In goal, Lauren Brzykcy has been a constant for UCLA as the only member of the roster to remain from the 2017 and 2019 College Cup teams. She is no stranger to facing high-powered offenses, with games of eight and nine saves to her name this season. In attack, the Bruins have three players who notched at least 20 points in Sunshine Fontes, Reilyn Turner and Lexi Wright. Fontes leads the team with 11 goals and seven assists.
Whichever team comes out on top, it will be a first for its coach. Alabama coach Wes Hart is in his eighth season at the helm, but has been on a steady upward trajectory since taking over. He has previously reached the College Cup as an assistant at Florida State (even winning the 2014 national title), but looks to win his first College Cup match as head coach. UCLA is led by Margueritte Aozasa, who took over this season after several winning seasons as an assistant at Stanford. She became the first rookie head coach to win Pac-12 Coach of the Year and looks to begin her College Cup tally against the Crimson Tide.
Each team's path to the College Cup
The Crimson Tide have enjoyed an all-time season en route to Cary and the Bruins are back for the first time since 2019. One team is a new name at this stage in the season, while the other is a perennial contender looking to return to the women's soccer mountaintop. Here's how each team reached this point, click or tap on any score for a full stat sheet:
No. 1 Alabama
- First round: def. Jackson State 9-0
- Second round: def. No. 8 Portland, 2-1
- Third round: def. UC Irvine, 3-1
- Quarterfinals: def. No. 2 Duke, 3-2
No. 1 UCLA
- First round: def. Northern Arizona, 4-1
- Second round: def. UCF 1-1 (F/PK)
- Third round: def. No. 4 Northwestern, 2-0
- Quarterfinals: def. No. 3 Virginia, 2-1