CARY, N.C. — The Cinderella season for the Alabama soccer team came to a screeching halt in the NCAA College Cup semifinal Friday at WakeMed Soccer Park.
UCLA defeated the Crimson Tide 3-0 in the UA’s first appearance in the College Cup.
The Bruins (21-2-1) advanced to the championship game against North Carolina (20-4-1) at 6 p.m. Monday.
Alabama (23-3-1) allowed three goals for the first time this season, and it was the first multi-goal loss of the season for the Crimson Tide. The previous two losses were both 1-0 losses (Miami and South Carolina).
It marked the 14th shutout of the season for UCLA.
Riley Mattingly Parker seemingly scored the initial goal of the game in the 27th minute, but the goal was disallowed following an offsides call on the Crimson Tide.
It was all UCLA from there. The Bruins responded three minutes later with Reilyn Turner scoring off an assist from Quincy McMahon in the 30th minute to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
McMahon added a goal in the 52nd minute to push the UCLA lead to 2-0 and Madelyn Desiano added a goal two minutes later to push the lead to three goals.
"UCLA, man, what a good team and certainly well-deserved win for them," Alabama head coach Wes Hart said. "I thought they were quite good on the night. They were so good at breaking our pressure, which no other team has been able to do this year."
It was the fifth NCAA Tournament appearance for Alabama and just the second time it made it past the first round.
Here are three takeaways from the season-ending loss for the Crimson Tide.
Crimson Tide cannot finish
The Crimson Tide had several scoring opportunities throughout the match but struggled with finishing.
Alabama out-possessed UCLA by 53% to 47% for the match.
The Crimson Tide had seven shots on goal, but UCLA goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy was there to make a stop every time Alabama had an open shot. Brzykcy finished with seven saves.
The Crimson Tide, the NCAA leader in total goals for the season, had not been shut out since a 1-0 loss to South Carolina in the SEC Tournament championship. It marked the third time Alabama was shut out this season.
Parker's non-goal on the offsides turned out to be the best chance Alabama had at scoring.
"It sucked," Parker said, laughing. "Getting a goal called back is no fun, obviously. What a good ball by Felicia (Knox), I just laid out for it and was like, 'sweet,' and was getting ready to celebrate. Then I looked up and line judge raising his flag."
Bruins dominate shooting
UCLA outshot the Crimson Tide 10-5 in the first half, including 7-3 on shots on goal, en route to a 1-0 halftime lead.
That did not change much in the second half, as UCLA kept mounting pressure on the usually-potent Alabama front. The Bruins were relentless on the attack and pushed the lead to 3-0 just nine minutes into the second half.
UCLA ended the game outshooting Alabama 20-11.
Alabama had allowed two goals just three times.
"Probably the third (goal) the wind in our sails went down a little," Parker said. "But that's just how the game goes. I mean, they scored some absolute bangers, props to them. I think I saw two of them were unassisted. I mean, they were filthy."
McKinley Crone strong game in goal
Despite allowing three goals and taking the loss, Crone still had a strong game for the Crimson Tide as the Bruins dominated the shot-taking.
"Mac saved some amazing saves, and she kept us from getting honestly ripped," Alabama senior Reyna Reyes said. "But credit to UCLA. They know how to peak off that back shoulder and overload the back line. They've got some great players that can hit some great through balls."
Crone finished with eight saves on 11 shots on goal by UCLA. The Bruins finished with 20 shots in the game.
In the eighth minute, Crone made a double save off a shot and then off a deflection to keep the Bruins from striking first at the time. Crone had six first-half saves.
"My thought was don't give up a goal this early in the game," Crone said. "Because if we wanted any chance to be able to fight, it can't be in the first 10 minutes that's going to kill our team."
Reach Ehsan Kassim at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Ehsan_Kassim. You can also follow our coverage on Facebook (NoleSports) and Instagram (tlhnolesports).
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama soccer falls to UCLA in NCAA College Cup semifinal