Penalty kicks played a deciding role in Notre Dame's second Women's College Cup victory December 4 at SAS Soccer Stadium in Cary, North Carolina. After Notre Dame goalkeeper Erika Bohn turned away a penalty-kick attempt late in regulation, she made another deflection to seal Notre Dame's 4-3 advantage in the penalty-kick tiebreaker.
The resulting victory over UCLA made Notre Dame the only multiple winner in this event other than North Carolina. The Tar Heels, winners of 17 of the 23 championships, lost in the third round this year to Santa Clara, the team Notre Dame ousted in the semifinals.
UCLA forged a 1-0 advantage over the Irish in the final on an own goal in the 60th minute. But Notre Dame tied the affair on, naturally, a penalty kick 14 minutes later. Bohn's crucial save came 10 minutes after that. Neither team scored again the rest of regulation or the two overtime periods.
It was the first time in the championship's history that the title game had been decided on penalty kicks. Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum couldn't bear to watch the shootout, a tradition built from superstition begun a few years ago.
"I had a lot of our fans behind me, either nodding to say 'you're OK,' or 'uh-oh,' and I could see by their expression (whether the kicks were converted). And then, of course, the coaches were there telling me if she missed to the right or to the left.
"Maybe I'll watch them (on tape) tonight or tomorrow."
Notre Dame finished the season 25-1-1, while UCLA, which was making its second title-game appearance, completed an 18-7 slate.
Ironically, the penalty kick Bohn saved in regulation was the first she had faced all season.
"I went with my gut the whole time (on that kick and in the shootout). Luckily I picked the right side every time," said Bohn, who was named the tournament's most outstanding defensive player.
It was the left side she picked to turn away Kendal Billingsley's waist-high shot from 12 yards out to preserve the 1-1 tie in regulation. Bohn stopped an attempt from UCLA's Lindsay Greco to resolve the shootout.
"I think any soccer purist would tell you that (penalty kicks) is not a good way to decide a game," Waldrum said. "But I don't know that we have a better solution other than to play for it."
"Eventually there has to be a tournament winner," said UCLA head coach Jillian Ellis. "I don't really know if there's a better way of doing it.
"I thought it was a tremendous game. Both teams fought and battled. It's unfortunate one team has to walk away after a game like that without the result they
wanted. Congratulations to Notre Dame. They're a very good team and they had a great season. I'm exceptionally proud of my players and how they played."
The Irish had outscored their five previous tournament opponents, 11-1, while the Bruins blanked their five opponents by a cumulative 9-0 count.
Notre Dame was making its fifth championship-game appearance. The Irish lost in 1994, 1996 and 1999 -- each time to North Carolina. UCLA's other appearance in the title game was in 2000 when the Bruins lost, 2-1, also to North Carolina.
The Irish downed Santa Clara by a 1-0 count in the semifinals. Candace Chapman converted a pass from Katie Thorlakson in the 73rd minute for the game's only goal. The Notre Dame defense allowed the Broncos just three shots.
UCLA won its semifinal match, 2-0, over Princeton, which was making its first College Cup appearance.
|UCLA||0||2 -- 2|
|Princeton||0||0 -- 0|
Second half: UCLA -- Danesha Adams (Iris Mora), 47:44; UCLA -- Bristyn Davis (unassisted), 64:24.
Shots: UCLA 9, Princeton 3. Goalkeeper saves: UCLA (Valerie Henderson) 0, Princeton (Madeleine Jackson 3, Emily Vogelzang 1) 4. Corner kicks: UCLA 4, Princeton 2.
|Santa Clara||0||0 -- 0|
|Notre Dame||0||1 -- 1|
Second half: ND -- Candace Chapman (Katie Thorlakson), 72:02.
Shots: Santa Clara 3, Notre Dame 11. Goalkeeper saves: Santa Clara (Julie Ryder) 3, Notre Dame (Erika Bohn) 1. Corner kicks: Santa Clara 6, Notre Dame 5.
|UCLA||0||1||0||0||(3) -- 1|
|Notre Dame||0||1||0||0||(4) -- 1|
Second half: UCLA -- own goal, 59:30; ND -- Katie Thorlakson (unassisted), 73:10.
Shots: UCLA 11, Notre Dame 11. Goalkeeper saves: UCLA (Valerie Henderson) 1, Notre Dame (Erika Bohn) 4. Corner kicks: UCLA 5, Notre Dame 5.