It's the women's NCAA semifinal and the UCLA women are making another deep foray into the tournament they have never won. They are the only number one seed left in the competition, and they are facing their crosstown rivals for a chance at the title.
It's scoreless in the first half right now. Sorry I'm late picking this up. USC's defense has held off the Bruins thus far.
UCLA is no doubt the favorite, and they're putting pressure on USC, but these teams always play close matches, even if UCLA has dominated the recent rivalry in terms of results.
15- Val Henderson out to grab a cross to kill a USC counter.
19- Shot from Lauren Cheney from distance - wide, but not by too much.
20- Corner for UCLA - Danesha Adams takes it, gets cleared for UCLA throw, bad pass by UCLA kills that attack.
21- Chance for USC, ball over the top for Amy Rodriguez gets headed by UCLA defender to Henderson but not far enough. Rodriguez nearly beats her defender to ball before Henderson grabs it. Rodriguez wants a penalty for defender grabbing her, but she's not going to get it.
23- UCLA on a counter serves up a ball for Kara Lang. She gets a header off, but nothing doing - it's wide.
25- USC takes off on a counter, UCLA seems to have trouble adjusting to that. They look so intent on offense that they seem a bit on their heels when they have to defend.
26- Kristina Larsen with an outside shot - on frame and low, giving the goalkeeper time to get down. Not sure UCLA should settle for outside shots.
27- Ball booted by Henderson over the endline. Service needs to be sharper to have a chance of penetrating USC's defense.
29- Lauren Wilmoth with a great cross to Danesha Adams in front of goal. Adams with a volleyed redirect misses the goal - ouch! Great chance lost.
30- Christina DiMartino with another outside shot for UCLA - it's wide. It wasn't a bad shot, but I think more runs need to be made closer to goal.
33- Just as I criticize UCLA, they have a great attacking sequence with tons of pressure on the USC defense. DiMartino jukes a defender in the box to get a shot off that Olsen dives to save.
35- Cheney gets the ball at top of box, turns and shoots, but it's straight to Olsen.
37- GOAL! Cheney doesn't make the same mistake twice. She gets the ball from Larsen, then turns against her defender, breaking into space, stutter steps to confuse another pair of defenders running to provide cover, heads into the box and cuts her shot into the corner away from Olsen. Great goal.
39- USC wins a FK - it has a decent chance, Kasey Johnson gets a head on it - Henderson is off her line, but makes an overhead catch to make the save.
42- UCLA has definitely taken their foot off the gas. They haven't shot the ball since the goal - oops, spoke too soon - Cheney just launched one from outside. High.
It was pretty much all UCLA, though USC looked dangerous in their counter opportunities. If USC had kept it scoreless to the half, I'd have given them the edge in the match anyway, despite the shot disparity for UCLA. The Bruins would have probably been really frustrated after so many chances came to nothing. The ghosts of the past College Cup failures would have probably made them jittery. Cheney actually scored on one of the most difficult chances in the entire match.
46- FK in the early going for SC, Sandoval is on target and Henderson just punches it over, the corner kick leads to a shot that knocks the wind out of Adams. The free throw leads to a redirected USC shot from a difficult angle that Henderson saves.
48- SC with great fighting spirit in the second half, showing that they can do more than defend. UCLA is getting manhandled, actually, and need to regain focus. They're getting beaten to the loose balls on pure hustle. USC is a really fit team.
49- Olsen out for a high ball against Adams as UCLA finally gets into USC territory this half.
51- UCLA with better rhythm, Cheney mishits the final pass.
55- Rodriguez spins free for a shot from a ways out, but it's wide.
57- Larsen lays ball back for Cheney, but it's not a great angle on the shot and Olsen saves it well.
58- USC with a free kick, hard and on target. Henderson can't catch it, so she tips it over for a corner. Sandoval takes - it clears everyone for a deep UCLA free throw.
60- Barnes steals from a USC player and hits a hard knuckler that Olsen barely puts over the bar. UCLA is called for a foul on the ensuing corner.
62- DiMartino is down, looks like an injury of some kind. Alma Playle comes into the match. Last week, I was at the Takashi Murakami exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary Museum here in LA and Alma was there checking out the show. I didn't talk to her, but it had to be her or her twin.
65- Corner for USC, but Henderson catches the service.
67- GOAL! USC. Sandoval with good service to Rodriguez, who beats her defender and slots it home low below a diving Henderson. A slight defensive gaffe by UCLA, and Rodriguez made them pay. UCLA was perhaps pushing a bit too hard to put the game away and got caught on an excellent counter. It's a new game now.
Game resumes after a timeout. I see this going to a golden goal. UCLA has won one of those already, but I'm not sure they have an advantage here. USC seems really fit. They're moving with a lot of confidence now. UCLA could be dealing with a few ghosts now.
69- USC content to let UCLA try to figure out how they're dealing with the situation now. They know their counter-game plan, and they're sticking to it. They're going to make it difficult for UCLA to score (the UCLA goal was harder-earned than USC's) and they're going to counter when they get their chances.
74- GOAL! USC. Off a corner, Johnson battles for it and then it drops for Rodriguez, who kicks a nice half-turn shot into the upper corner. No chance for Henderson.
76- UCLA freekick taken by Barnes, but Olsen catches it pretty easily.
77- Teams have a habit of breaking their duck against UCLA when it matters. Portland beat them for the first time in the final, now USC is looking to beat UCLA for the first time in over a decade here in the semifinal. UCLA looks tired. USC looks tough.
79- Cheney passes to Wilmoth for a chance, but Wilmoth puts it over the bar.
81- Oooh, close for UCLA, Cheney through-ball for Lang, but Olsen comes out to smother. Wow - Lang was in free on goal, but couldn't quite reach the ball before Olsen blocked it.
83- UCLA looks skittish now. USC is calm, giving up space to UCLA, but not chances.
87- Free kick for UCLA is in a good spot - Yikes - Cheney hits it way high. Bad.
89- Seconds left in the game USC looks good - it's almost over, USC in the corner. Clock ticks down! It's over. UCLA is out.
Wow, UCLA got a lead but let USC back into the game and that was that. Since Florida State won versus Notre Dame, the NCAA champion will be a first-time-ever champion.