UCLA Upset by UC Irvine, 1-0, in NCAA Tournament
LOS ANGELES – UCLA suffered its first loss of the season at the most inopportune time, falling to UC Irvine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 1-0.
The Anteaters got on the board early, taking a 1-0 lead at 13:32 on a header by Alyssa Moore off a Destinee Manzo cross. The goal marked the first time this season that an opponent had scored first against UCLA.
Finding themselves behind for just the second time this season, the Bruins stepped up the pressure late in the first half. Sunshine Fontes came off the bench and had a shot in the 33rd minute saved by Glo Hinojosa and another blocked in the 39th minute. And in the final minute of the first half, Marley Canales boomed a long shot off the crossbar in the 45th minute, and Brianne Riley had a shot blocked by a defender.
"We started slow, and they scored a nice goal. They're a team that won their conference, they're dangerous, No. 11 was really crafty and gave us some problems in the first half. You could tell we were a little flat, and in tournament time, anyone can hurt you," said UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell.
UCLA switched formations and dominated possession in the second half, outshooting UC Irvine 13-1 in the half and 19-4 overall, but six saves by Hinojosa in the half helped to keep the Bruins at bay. The Bruins had a great chance in the 57th minute on a shot by Olivia Athens, but an Anteater defender was there to clear the ball for a team save. Less than a minute later, Madelyn Desiano was saved by Hinojosa. In the 75th minute, Canales had a shot that Hinojosa tipped out, and Athens cracked another shot off the crossbar a minute later. As the minutes waned down, the Bruins continued to press for the equalizer, but time ran out on their season.
"In the second half we did enough to win the game," Cromwell said. "We had a great second half, and that's what stings even more. Their keeper had a great game, and the crossbar had a great game. I'm just so heartbroken for our seniors, especially. This team has so much talent and so much camaraderie and just love for each other, and you could see it in the second half, just fighting for each other, and the anguish at the end is heartbreaking."
UCLA's loss snapped a 26-game unbeaten streak. UC Irvine picked up its first win over UCLA since the 1995 season, which also marked the last year that the Bruins suffered a first-round NCAA Tournament exit.
The Bruins conclude their season with a 16-1-3 record, while the Anteaters won their seventh-straight game to improve to 16-5-0 overall.