The UCLA Bruins are national champions for the second time in program history. They came from behind to defeat North Carolina, 3-2, in a thrilling and dramatic Division 1 College Cup final.
The Tar Heels, buoyed by the North Carolina crowd in Cary, which lies 18 miles east of Chapel Hill, were aiming for their first national title since 2012 and 22nd overall in their 27th final appearance under Coach Anson Dorrance.
The Bruins, led by first-year coach Margueritte Aozasa, won the 2013 crown under Coach Amanda Crowell, whom Aozasa replaced after the 2021 season.
North Carolina started out the game on the front foot, dominating possession and preventing the Bruins from getting momentum. The Tar Heels' best early chance came in a fashion similar to one of the goals in their 3-2 semifinal win against Florida State. Senior defender Julia Dorsey connected with senior forward Emily Moxley’s free kick, but UCLA’s graduate student goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy pulled off the save.
The Bruins didn’t get a first shot on goal until 35 minutes into the contest and the game was scoreless at halftime.
The Tar Heels finally broke the deadlock in the 58th minute. Moxley whipped in a cross that junior forward Avery Patterson met with a powerful header into the goal. The Tar Heels' leading scorer was not done as her header in the 75th minute from Emily Colton's service found the corner of the net for her second goal of the game and 13th of the season.
With 15 minutes left and needing two goals, the Bruins pressed harder and sent more players in attack. Sophomore Lexi Wright scored her team’s first goal in the 80th minute. Senior Sunshine Fontes had her shot saved by UNC redshirt freshman goalkeeper Emmie Allen, but the rebound came to Wright, who scored her eighth goal of the season.
As the clock counted down, it looked like North Carolina was going to hold on to its one-goal lead.
But with 16 seconds left in regulation, junior forward Reilyn Turner headed freshman Ally Lemos’ corner kick into the goal to tie the game and force overtime. Her 11th of the season was not without controversy. There was much contact in the crowded goal area and Allen fell into her goal as the ball hit the net.
UCLA carried its momentum into overtime, but both teams had chances in the first 10 minutes.
With penalties looming, graduate student Maricarmen Reyes emerged as the Bruins’ hero, scoring the game-winning goal in the 107th minute. Like the Bruins' first goal by Wright, the strike came off a rebound from goalkeeper Allen, who made a diving save on a hard 10-yard shot from Ally Cook. But Reyes slid in to strike the rebound into the net from two yards out.
Allen made eight saves while her UCLA counterpart Brzykcy finished with five. The Bruins took 20 shots with 12 on target; the Tar Heels took 13 with seven on target. The Bruins had a 9-4 edge in corner kicks,
2022 Women's College Cup final milestones
• UCLA became the first team to come back from two goals down to win a championship.
• Aozasa is now the first, first-year head coach to lift the title.
• In NCAA D1 women's soccer's 41-year history, Aozasa became the fourth female head coach to win the title, after Becky Burleigh (Florida, 1998), Cromwell (UCLA, 2013) and Erica (née Walsh) Dambach (Penn State, 2015)
• Aozasa become the second Asian American championship-winning coach after Hank Leung (George Mason, 1985)
Dec. 5 in Cary, N.C.
UCLA 3 North Carolina 2 (OT). Goals: Wright 80, Turner 90, Reyes 107; Patterson 75, 59.
UCLA — Brzykcy; Reale, Perry, McMahon, Lemos, Desiano, Gilday; Wright, Marin-Valencia, Fontes, Turner. Subs: Cook, Reyes, Cook, Riley.
North Carolina — Allen; Dorsey, Hansen, Elgin, Colton, Moore, Dellapuerta, Patterson, Moxley, Cox, Sentnor. Subs: Dahlien, Dellaperuta, Jones, Gambone, Pierce, Murphy.
Yellow cards: UCLA — Perry 34, Marin-Valencia 70; North Carolina — Cox 70, Dellapuerta 74, Pierce 90. Red cards: none.
Referee: Samantha Martinez. ARs: Kate Wasiak; Tiffini Turpin.
Photo courtesy UCLA Athletics