After two forty-five-minute halves and two ten-minute overtime periods, it all came down to penalty kicks tonight when UCLA played Duke in the National Semifinal.
The teams battled through regulation, but the game was still scoreless.
So, they went into overtime with each team looking for the golden goal that would send them to Sunday’s Championship game, but neither team could get it in the first OT.
They played a second overtime period, still sudden death, for the right to advance, but after 110 minutes, the Bruins and the Blue Devils were still tied 0-0.
That sent the game to penalty kicks.
Now, just let me say that it’s a shame that such a tough-fought game should have to be decided this way. Regardless of the outcome, a national semifinal should be decided by all eleven players on each team rather than 10 shooters and 2 goalies. I didn’t like it last season when UCLA lost on penalty kicks to West Virginia and I don’t like deciding tonight’s game on it when the Bruins are on the other end of a penalty-kick decision.
But, someone had to win tonight and, while they should probably be changed, those are the rules.
In the shootout, the Blue Devils sent Gabi Brummett to shoot first and she made her goal. The Bruins followed with Zoey Goralski, who faked out Duke goalkeeper EJ Proctor for the goal.
Duke’s Malinda Allen was next and her shot went high off the crossbar giving UCLA a chance to go ahead. It was Julia Hernandez’s opportunity and she made the most of Proctor’s bad guess and she tapped the shot into the net, giving the Bruins a 2-1 edge.
Freshman Karlie Paschall was up next for the Blue Devils and Tegan Micah guessed wrong and Paschall’s shot went into the opposite corner to tie it up. MacKenzie Cerda stepped up to take the Bruins’ next shot and Proctor was able to save this one and the Bruins’ edge was gone.
Duke’s Ashton Miller was the Blue Devils’ fourth shooter and, while Tegan Micah got her hand on the ball for UCLA, she couldn’t keep it out of the net and Duke took a 3-2 lead. It was up to Sunny Dunphy to keep pace with Duke and she did, which meant that this game was going to come down to the final two kicks.
Kat McDonald was Duke’s fifth shooter but she kicked it right to Micah, who made the save. That left it up to Marley Canales and Canales drilled it home to send the Bruins to Sunday’s title game.
While Canales deserves credit for making the shot, it seemed like UCLA seemed to know Proctor’s tendency to guess to her right as the Bruins seemed to be shooting to Proctor’s left in the shootout. That may or may not have been the strategy, but Coach Amanda Cromwell deserves credit for selecting players that could make four of the five penalty kicks.
Of course, this now sets up the preferred matchup for Sunday’s title game. It’s UCLA vs. Stanford! Two schools each with 113 NCAA Titles, battling it out on the field for #114.
After the game, Canales said that this UCLA team is special and that they’ve been looking forward to a rematch with Stanford after losing 1-0 to the Cardinal during the regular season.
Now, it’s time for some revenge.
Bring #114 home, ladies! Go Bruins!!!