UCLA wins shootout to reach NCAA title game

Rosie White pushed UCLA into the NCAA Women’s College Cup final,

scoring the decisive penalty kick against Virginia after the teams

tied 1-1 on Friday night.

The Bruins (21-1-3) won the tiebreaker 4-2 to advance to face

Florida State (23-1-3) on Sunday in the championship game. The

Seminoles beat Virginia Tech 3-2 in the first semifinal.

”I just give a lot of credit to the UCLA girls for really

rising to the occasion,” Bruins coach Amanda Cromwell said.

”We’ve been through it. We’ve been tried and tested. I’m just

really proud of the team right now.”

Katelyn Rowland stopped two of Virginia’s four attempts in the

shootout.

The Bruins rallied to force overtime with Ally Courtnall’s goal

in the 85th minute. Makenzy Doniak scored in the 73rd minute for

the Cavaliers (24-1-1), the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed.

Each team converted its first two penalty kicks before Lauren

Kaskie gave the Bruins a 3-2 advantage. Rowland then stopped a shot

by Alexis Shaffer.

After Virginia’s Jessie Ferrari saved a shot by Kodi Lavrusky,

Rowland stopped a shot by Morgan Brian to set the stage for White’s

winning kick.

”Being the last one to take a PK, there was a lot of pressure

on that one, obviously,” White said. ”But I was just trying not

to overthink it and put it where I wanted to, and it worked

out.”

Ferrari, who had played in one game all season, replaced

starting goalkeeper Morgan Stearns for the shootout.

”We’ve been practicing these all year,” Virginia coach Steve

Swanson said. ”We have confidence in all of our goalies, but in

that situation Jessie has proven to be very capable. We’re

confident in her. It’s not something that we just made a decision

on randomly. It’s something we’ve been working on. We knew that if

it got to that situation that we were going to do that.”

UCLA extended its unbeaten streak to 20 games en route to

reaching the NCAA final for the fourth time overall and the first

since 2005.

Virginia appeared to be on its way to its first NCAA final when

Doniak took advantage of a rare mistake by UCLA’s top-ranked

defense.

UCLA defender Abby Dahlkemper attempted to clear the ball by

passing it back to Rowland, but Dahlkemper did not make solid

contact on the ball with her foot. Doniak, who already was running

toward the goal, kept sprinting and reached the ball before

Rowland. She juked past Rowland with a dribble to the right and

kicked the ball into the middle of the empty net.

”It’s hard to dig out of that kind of mistake sometimes, but we

just kept pushing and fighting and scrapping,” Cromwell said.

”That’s what really has set the tone for the season.”

UCLA tied it when Courtnall slipped behind part of Virginia’s

defense unmarked. Sarah Killian threaded a pass into the box to

Courtnall, who ripped a ground-hugging shot past Stearns.

”She kind of came out of the blind spot,” Stearns said.

The Bruins dominated play after a first half that featured no

shots on goal between the teams. UCLA generated the best scoring

opportunities in the second half, one of which Stearns saved with a

diving punch.

The same was true of the overtime periods, where the Bruins

twice hit the post with shots as they peppered Stearns. Courtnall

lofted a shot midway through the second overtime that hit the post,

bounced off Stearns, and hit the post again.