Three minutes of frustration in the first half and two minutes of misery in the second was enough to derail Alabama’s historic football run on Friday night as the Crimson Tide saw its season end with a 3-0 loss to UCLA in the semifinals of the College Cup in Cary, NC
An unforgettable night for Alabama (23-3-1) began with an almost magical moment when Riley Mattingly Parker headed in Felicia Knox’s ball in the 27th minute. However, the goal was disallowed as Parker was ruled offside.
“Getting a goal called back is no fun,” said Mattingly Parker. “What a beautiful dance by Felicia. I just got ready for this, and I was like ‘Sweet!’ I’m getting ready to celebrate, and I looked up and saw the linesman raise his flag.
Three minutes later, UCLA (21-2-1) opened the scoring as Bruins defenseman Quincy McMahon beat Alabama Gessica Skora to the endline before pulling back a pass across the goal to the unmarked forward Reilyn Turner for easy tap-in.
UCLA scored two goals in quick succession in the second half to finally bury Alabama. McMahon extended the Bruins’ lead to 2-0 with a deflected shot from high in the box in the 52nd minute. Two minutes later UCLA completed the blowout as left fullback Madelyn Desiano scored a solo goal, shooting from the top of the box to beat Alabama goaltender McKinley Crone into the top right corner.
Alabama entered Friday in second place nationally averaging 2.92 goals per game and found the back of the net a total of 17 times in its four NCAA Tournament victories. However, the Crimson Tide was unable to maintain its signature possession against the Bruins, suffering just his third shutout of the season while matching his season-low with 11 shots.
Crone was high in net, tallying eight saves and keeping the game from getting out of hand. Lui made consecutive saves to keep the game goalless in the ninth minute. Three minutes into the second half, he stopped Turner in a one-on-one situation to keep the score at 1-0.
“Mak [Crone] he saved some incredible saves tonight,” Alabama left fullback Reyna Reyes said. It kept us from being ripped off, honestly. We thank UCLA, seriously. They know how to get that back shoulder up and overload the baseline. They have some great players who can only provide through balls. But I thought our defense did the best they could.”
Despite the loss, Alabama put together its best season in school history, claiming its first SEC regular season title while making its deepest run in the NCAA Tournament. Prior to this season, the most Alabama had made in the NCAA Tournament was last year’s second-round exit.
UCLA will face North Carolina in the national championship game on Monday at 5:00 PM CT. North Carolina advanced by beating Florida State 3-2 in the other semifinal on Friday.
This story will be updated.