Two relentless offenses. Two teams with just two losses apiece. Two coaches with national championship experience, in their first College Cup leading a team. It takes two to tango, but after Friday night, UCLA is the one still dancing.
The top-seeded Bruins beat No. 1-seed Alabama 3-0 in the College Cup semifinals behind a relentless attack and a defense that would not let the Crimson Tide get free in the box. Fullback Quincy McMahon recorded a goal and an assist, while center forward Reilyn Turner had a goal on six shots (three on goal). UCLA improved to 3-3-2 all time at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“They scored some absolute bangers — props to them,” said Alabama striker Riley Mattingly Parker. “They were filthy — literally upper 90, like, ‘What are you talking about?’ ... You gotta give credit to where credit’s due.”
UCLA plays North Carolina for the national championship Monday at 3 p.m. PST. North Carolina defeated Florida State 3-2 in the other semifinal.
UCLA and North Carolina met in the title game in 2000, with the Tar Heels winning 2-1.
The Bruins could have broken the game open early.
It took a daring tackle from Alabama to prevent Turner from getting a one-on-one with Tide keeper McKinley Crone in the sixth minute.
Crone barely deflected two shots from second striker Lexi Wright in the eighth minute. Sunshine Fontes laced a free kick inches shy of finding the goal in the 13th.
Instead, UCLA went into halftime with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Turner finishing a McMahon crosser. The service was as good as any the Bruins had all night, but Alabama overshifted as McMahon dribbled to the goal line, leaving a wide-open net for Turner.
“Our team has a lot of weapons,” Bruins coach Margueritte Aozasa said. “We did an activity once, when we had our team create a scouting report of our own team, and one of the things that they struggled with was to name key players, because we have so many threats. So you saw that tonight.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.