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UCLA Reaches NCAA Final

December 04, 2004|From Associated Press

CARY, N.C. — UCLA soccer Coach Jillian Ellis was happy to beat her best friend, Princeton counterpart Julie Shackford.

After all, a spot in Sunday's NCAA championship game was on the line.

"Julie is my dearest friend and we're both super-competitive, but that's why we are in the position that we are," said Ellis, who was a teammate of Shackford at William & Mary and is the godmother of Shackford's daughter, Cameron. "If it was a day that we didn't win, I would be happy for her and her program."

UCLA was led by a goal each from Danesha Adams and Bristyn Davis in a 2-0 victory Friday over Princeton in the semifinals of the Women's College Cup. Bruin goalkeeper Valerie Henderson faced only three shots and didn't have to make a save.

It will be the second time in five years that the Bruins (18-6) have advanced to the final.

UCLA, which has never won an NCAA women's title, plays for the championship against Notre Dame, which beat Santa Clara, 1-0, in the other semifinal.

The Irish (24-1-1), who got a goal from Candace Chapman with about 18 minutes left, reached their first final since 1999.

Princeton (19-3), the first Ivy League team to reach the Final Four, gave up more than one goal for the first time. The Tigers went without an official shot in the first half, although Emily Behncka had a great chance about 90 seconds before the break.

She chased down a pass just inside the box, split two defenders and nudged the ball toward the goal. It was barely wide, and that was the best chance Princeton had.

"I thought UCLA definitely was the better team," Shackford said. "We looked a little tight, and I think it was a little bit of not being familiar with the environment."

UCLA had five shots in the first half, including a header by Caitlin Ursini after a corner kick that narrowly missed the goal.

"When you're not scoring, there is always frustration," Davis said. "But we knew that somehow we could pull through. We just kept going no matter what."

The Bruins broke through early in the second half, when Adams fought off defender Elizabeth Pillion to take a nifty pass from Iris Mora. With goalkeeper Madeleine Jackson charging out, Adams calmly poked the ball past her and it rolled in for a 1-0 lead.

Nearly 20 minutes later, Davis got a chance from about 25 yards out and curved a shot around Princeton midfielder Janine Willis. Jackson appeared not to see the shot, and it moved past her easily to make it 2-0.

UCLA hasn't given up a goal in the postseason.

"I think they did a good job of marking up," Princeton midfielder Diana Matheson said. "It was tough to get balls through."



Fresh Faces

When UCLA meets Notre Dame on Sunday in the NCAA women's title game, it will mark only the sixth time in the 23-year history of the tournament that a soccer team other than North Carolina will win the championship and only the third time the Tar Heels have not been in the final. The other titlists:

*--* Year Champion Score Runner-Up Host 1985 George Mason 2-0 North Carolina George Mason 1995 Notre Dame 1-0 (3 OT) Portland North Carolina 1998 Florida 1-0 North Carolina N.C. Greensboro 2001 Santa Clara 1-0 North Carolina Southern Methodist 2002 Portland 2-1 (2 OT) Santa Clara Texas


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