Nov. 30, 2007
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Danesha Adams' header off a corner kick in the 104th minute clinched UCLA's advancement to the NCAA College Cup and capped one of the most exciting women's soccer matches in history as the Bruins held off the Portland Pilots for the second straight season in a quarterfinal match at Drake Stadium.
No. 1 UCLA (20-1-2) extended its home unbeaten streak to 41 matches with the 3-2 double overtime victory, which played out like a championship match. The Pilots (18-4-0), who were ranked No. 2 in the nation, ended their season in gutsy fashion.
After All-American senior midfielder Angie Woznuk scored off a corner kick with 69 seconds remaining in regulation to even the score at 2-2, both teams had chances in the first overtime before the Bruins took control in the second OT.
Defender Lauren Barnes sent a perfect corner kick to the far post as Adams rose above the Pilots' defense and snuck a header over Portland goalkeeper Kelsey Davis. It was one of the few times Davis was unable to make a stop on the night, as she recorded 11 saves, many that had no business avoiding the back of the net.
Davis was phenomenal in the second half and overtime, despite allowing the three goals. She fully extended numerous times to tip quality shots off and over the crossbar. Ten of her 11 saves came after halftime as she showed why she is highly regarded in the USA Youth National Team system.
"UCLA is a great, dynamic team," Davis said. "We were able to keep them out for most of the game, but they have a great offense."
After the Pilots took a 1-0 first-half lead, UCLA applied heavy offensive pressure in the second period and went up 2-1 in the 73rd minute as Kara Lang's header went off the right post and ricocheted off the back of a diving Davis and just over the goal line.
Woznuk sent it to extra time as a failed UCLA clearance off a corner kick taken by All-American defender Stephanie Lopez found her foot. She one-timed a shot with the outside of her right foot from the right post extended and beat UCLA goalie Valerie Henderson to the upper right.
In a game full of momentum swings, the Pilots controlled the run of play in the first half and finally broke through in the 35th minute. Freshman defender Jessica Tsao sliced through the defense and sent a cross past Henderson from the right side to the left post. Sophomore striker Michelle Enyeart curled her 15 yard shot through a pair of defenders and inside the right post for a 1-0 lead.
The Bruins answered early in the second period, ending Portland's school record nine-match shutout streak. Adams weaved through the defense and blasted a shot from 20 yards to the low right of Davis. Lang's lucky bounce later in the period put the Pilots behind for the first time since a 2-1 loss to USC on September 30.
The resilient Pilots pushed on though and forced overtime.
"We have nothing to shake our heads about," Portland head coach Garrett Smith said. "We knew it was going to be tough. To tie it up that late in the game showed the true character of this program. I'm disappointed to lose in overtime, but this team has accomplished so much this season."
UCLA has now won the last three meetings between the two West Coast rivals after falling to the Pilots in the 2005 NCAA Championship match by a 4-0 margin. The Bruins defeated Portland 2-1, in similar come-from-behind fashion, in the quarterfinals last season and beat the Pilots earlier this season at Drake Stadium in another overtime battle, 2-1.
"Every time we meet (UCLA) it's special," Davis noted. "This should have been a championship match."
In a game that many thought should have been played in College Station, Texas (site of the 2007 NCAA College Cup), the two top teams in the country put on a display for the xxxx fans that withstood the unusually cold and wet Los Angeles weather. Standing water was brushed off the field hours before kickoff and the pace of play was slowed by muddy and sloppy field conditions.
Smith, who has seen his Pilots come up just short to the Bruins twice this season in overtime, said in a post-game interview that he "expects UCLA to go on and win the championship."
Back in Portland, a capacity crowd of over 400 fans packed the Buckley Center Auditorium on the campus of the University of Portland for an energetic watch party. After UCLA's game-winner, the group stood and clapped. The only appropriate response to a match well played.