Bruins Advance To NCAA Championship

Dec. 13, 2002

DALLAS - (AP) Adolfo Gregorio scored the go-ahead goal on a penalty kick in the 81st minute to lead UCLA into the NCAA championship game with a 2-1 victory over Maryland on Friday.

The Bruins (17-3-3) will take on the winner of Friday night's Creighton-Stanford match in Sunday's title game.

Matt Taylor also scored for UCLA, while Maryland (20-5) got a goal from Sumed Ibrahim. All the scoring occurred in a seven-minute span late in the second half.

'I thought we played well in the first half, but didn't reward ourselves,'' UCLA coach Tom Fitzgerald said. 'The whole game wasn't as fluid as we'd like it to be. But that's the mark of a good team, to win even when you don't play well.''

UCLA was awarded the penalty kick after forward Cliff McKinley was pulled down in the box by Maryland goalkeeper Noah Palmer.

McKinley was on a straightaway run in the box, and had Palmer beat when the goalkeeper grabbed McKinley's leg, giving the Bruins their tiebreaking penalty kick.

'I thought I got my hand on the ball before he went down, but unfortunately the ref didn't, and he got the penalty kick,'' Palmer said.

The play was almost identical to one in the Bruins' game against Penn State last week. The Penn State goalie was ejected with a red card, and the resulting penalty kick tied the game 1-1. The Bruins went on to win that game 7-1.

UCLA, the tournament's No. 3 seed who last won the title in 1997, started the scoring in the 74th minute when Taylor streaked down the left side of the field, and put in a cross from Gregorio.

'I thought I'd slide it behind the defense, and I hoped somebody would find it,'' Gregorio said.

Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski was ejected for abusive language moments after arguing to officials that Taylor was offsides.

Maryland, seeded No. 2, tied it in the 80th minute when Ibrahim lofted a shot that split two defenders and went into the top-left corner.

The intense second half followed a first half of sloppy and physical play, as both teams struggled to find a rhythm. UCLA had 19 fouls and Maryland 12, and both teams had two yellow cards.

'It was really physical out there,'' McKinley said. 'Being physical is one of my strong suits. I like doing the dirty work. It gets me into the game.''

UCLA goalkeeper Zach Wells made a spectacular save in the first half when he smothered Maryland's best shot of the half, a hard line drive by Nino Marcantonio from about 12 yards out.

UCLA's leading scorer Tim Pierce, who came in with 12 goals, was defended closely and shut down by Maryland.

The Bruins have six seniors, including three who played on the team that lost to Indiana in the semifinals in 1999, compared to none for Maryland.

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