UCLA wins the national championship in classic final
A comeback story, a career-defining goal, tears flowing on both sidelines and a euphoric release as the clock struck zero. The 2022 Women's College Cup final was an all-time classic in every sense of the word, as the UCLA Bruins won their first national title since 2013 and coach Margueritte Aozasa became the first rookie coach in NCAA women's soccer to win it all.
Eighty minutes in and with a two-goal lead, the UNC-branded champions' t-shirts were surely being unboxed and rolled to the field. UCLA pulled a goal back to make things interesting, but it seemed too little, too late. As the clock ticked under 30 seconds, Chapel Hill was readying itself for yet another national championship rally.
Then Reilyn Turner turned the drama all the way up. She headed a corner kick into the roof of the net amid a mass of bodies stuffed on the goal line. Overtime followed and both teams continued to attack rather than play for a penalty kick shootout. Minutes before the winner, the Bruins were just inches from third when a header was cleared off the line by desperate UNC defense.
Finally, the moment that will be replayed for years every December when the College Cup comes back around. A shot saved by Emmie Allen and an onrushing Maricarmen Reyes, who pivoted and shot in one motion, beating Allen and sending the traveling UCLA fans into bedlam. Reyes fell to the ground in elation, mobbed by her teammates. When she emerged from the pile, she had lost a few tears but gained a lifelong memory.
It's the first time a team came back from down two goals to win the national championship. It was just the second time the Bruins had even seen a two-score deficit this season. And the third goal was scored by the final kick of Reyes' collegiate career.
For the Tar Heels, the championship drought will continue for an 11th year. After the first-round heartbreak of last season, this year's run to the final was nearly complete. Nearly, but not quite. The national title evaded Anson Dorrance and the Tar Heels yet again, who have now lost their last three College Cup final appearances.
For the near-10,000 fans in attendance at WakeMed Soccer Park, they know it will be hard for any future College Cup to top the drama of the 2022 final. UCLA will fly back to the west coast with their program's second national title which was won in a way we may never see again.
UCLA TIES IT UP IN THE FINAL SECONDS
👀 2-1 with 10 minutes to go
GOAL 80' UCLA 1-2 North Carolina: Well then! The Bruins finally get a prime scoring chance and it's tucked away by Lexi Wright. The assist goes to Sunshine Fontes who sent in a laser from outside the area that UNC goalkeeper Emmie Allen blocked but could not secure.
This game has finally ratcheted up in intensity, just in time for the last 10 minutes to be frantic as UCLA pushes for an equalizer.
😮💨 Tar Heels up 2, Patterson AGAIN
GOAL 75' UCLA 0-2 North Carolina: Avery Patterson with a looping header over the head of UCLA's Lauren Brzykcy. The ball was swung in by Emily Colton from a very similar position to Moxley's assist from earlier. Patterson got her head to it but I wonder if she meant it! Tar Heels lead by two. I would say it's a safe lead, but you just never know...
🚨 Patterson puts UNC ahead 🚨
GOAL 59' UCLA 0-1 North Carolina: It's Avery Patterson with her 12th goal of the season! The Tar Heels' leading scorer notches her first goal of the tournament, heading home on a cross from Emily Moxley. It's a wingback-to-wingback combination for North Carolina, who is just under a half hour from NCAA title number 22.
HALFTIME: UCLA 0-0 North Carolina: The score is even in Cary after the first 45. Neither team created an abundance of scoring chances, but things started to open up in the final few minutes of the half as substitutes were rotated in.
It took a while for North Carolina to start to break through UCLA low block, but eventually, UNC started to send in the low balls and cutbacks into the six-yard box it's known for. Unfortunately for the Heels, no one in white could get on the end of them. The one golden opportunity UNC had came on an Emily Moxley free kick that was just an inch or two from the right foot of Julia Dorsey.
Counterattacks have been few for UCLA, and only one resulted in any meaningful chance. Sunshine Fontes burst down the right side and was played in by Bridgette Marin-Valencia, but her shot went wide into the side netting. Unless something changes at halftime, the Bruins will need to be more ruthless on the few counterattack chances they get in the second half.
Here's a look at stats at half-time:
15 minutes in
The first 15 minutes here at WakeMed haven't featured much in terms of scoring chances, but North Carolina has started on the front foot. Not unexpected as the Bruins seem happy to wait for an opportunity to burst forward on the counter. This is the definition of a feeling-out process to start the match.
As far as the fan turnout, it's also unsurprisingly UNC-heavy, but the UCLA fans in attendance aren't exactly quiet, either.
How to watch UCLA vs. North Carolina
When: 6 p.m. ET
Where: WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina
How to watch: ESPNU or ESPN+
Previewing the College Cup final
This will be the 16th all-time meeting between the programs, a series that North Carolina leads 11-2-2. They have met six previous times in the NCAA tournament and UNC has four wins, including the 2000 title game. However, we don’t have to think quite that far back to remember the last time the Tar Heels and Bruins met.
UCLA came from behind to drop North Carolina 2-1 on the road in September, a game that propelled the Bruins to a unanimous No. 1 ranking — a position they would hold for nine weeks. It was a huge milestone for UCLA coach Margueritte Aozasa so early in her head coaching career. Her fourth career win came over Anson Dorrance, a man who is closing in on 1,000.
Now they meet again. A rookie coach seeking her first title against a living legend with 21 to his name. It’s been 10 years since Dorrance last lifted the trophy in 2012 — the same year Aozasa wrapped up her playing career at Santa Clara. In that time, Aozasa began her coaching career at Stanford and won two championships as an assistant. Now she looks to become the first rookie head coach to ever win the College Cup.
On the pitch, the battle will be between UCLA's fast, direct style of soccer against North Carolina's relatively new three-back system that has also unlocked their offensive firepower. Click or tap here for an in-depth preview of how each team will attack the other in tonight's showdown.
Each team's path to the College Cup final
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
- Semifinals: def. No. 1 Alabama, 3-0
No. 2 North Carolina
- First round: def. Old Dominion, 5-0
- Second round: def. No. 7 Georgia, 3-1
- Third round: def. No. 6 BYU, 3-2
- Quarterfinals: def. No. 1 Notre Dame, 2-0
- Semifinals: def. No. 1 Florida State, 3-2
DI women's soccer championship history
|2021||Florida State (22-1-2)||0-0 (2ot, pk)||BYU||Santa Clara, Calif.|
|2020||Santa Clara (10-1-1)||1-1 (2ot, pk)||Florida State||Cary, N.C.|
|2019||Stanford (24-1-0)||0-0 (2ot, pk)||North Carolina||San Jose, Calif.|
|2018||Florida State (20-4-3)||1-0||North Carolina||Cary, N.C.|
|2017||Stanford (23-1-0)||3-2||UCLA||Orlando, Fla.|
|2016||Southern California (19-4-2)||3-1||West Virginia||San Jose, Calif.|
|2015||Penn State (22-3-2)||1-0||Duke||Cary, N.C.|
|2014||Florida State (23-1-1)||1-0||Virginia||Boca Raton, Fla.|
|2013||UCLA (22-1-3)||1-0 (OT)||Florida State||Cary, N.C.|
|2012||North Carolina (15-5-3)||4-1||Penn State||San Diego, Calif.|
|2011||Stanford (25-0-1)||1-0||Duke||Kennesaw, Ga.|
|2010||Notre Dame (21-2-2)||1-0||Stanford||Cary, N.C.|
|2009||North Carolina (23-3-1)||1-0||Stanford||Texas A&M|
|2008||North Carolina (25-1-2)||2-1||Notre Dame||Cary, N.C.|
|2007||Southern California (20-3-2)||2-0||Florida State||Texas A&M|
|2006||North Carolina (27-1)||2-1||Notre Dame||Cary, N.C.|
|2005||Portland (23-0-2)||4-0||UCLA||Texas A&M|
|2004||*Notre Dame (25-1-1)||1-1 (2 ot, pk)||UCLA||Cary, N.C.|
|2003||North Carolina (27-0)||6-0||Connecticut||Cary, N.C.|
|2002||Portland (20-4-2)||2-1 (2 ot)||Santa Clara||Austin, Texas|
|2001||Santa Clara (23-2)||1-0||North Carolina||SMU|
|2000||North Carolina (21-3)||2-1||UCLA||San Jose State|
|1999||North Carolina (24-2)||2-0||Notre Dame||San Jose State|
|1998||Florida (26-1)||1-0||North Carolina||UNC Greensboro|
|1997||North Carolina (27-0-1)||2-0||Connecticut||UNC Greensboro|
|1996||North Carolina (25-1)||1-0 (2 ot)||Notre Dame||Santa Clara|
|1995||Notre Dame (21-2-2)||1-0 (3 ot)||Portland||North Carolina|
|1994||North Carolina (25-1-1)||5-0||Notre Dame||Portland|
|1993||North Carolina (23-0)||6-0||George Mason||North Carolina|
|1992||North Carolina (25-0)||9-1||Duke||North Carolina|
|1991||North Carolina (25-0)||3-1||Wisconsin||North Carolina|
|1990||North Carolina (24-0)||6-0||Connecticut||North Carolina|
|1989||North Carolina (24-0-1)||2-0||Colorado College||North Carolina State|
|1988||North Carolina (18-0-3)||4-1||North Carolina State||North Carolina|
|1987||North Carolina (23-0-1)||1-0||Massachusetts||Massachusetts|
|1986||North Carolina (24-0-1)||2-0||Colorado College||George Mason|
|1985||George Mason (18-2-1)||2-0||North Carolina||George Mason|
|1984||North Carolina (24-0-1)||2-0||Connecticut||North Carolina|
|1983||North Carolina (19-1)||4-0||George Mason||UCF|
|1982||North Carolina (19-2)||2-0||UCF||UCF|
*Declared champion on the basis of penalty kicks.