UCLA upsets Duke on penalty kicks to reach NCAA women’s soccer final – Orange County Register

Marley Canales got one touch on the ball Friday night. She made it count.

The freshman midfielder buried UCLA’s decisive penalty kick against Duke in the Women’s College Cup semifinal to send the Bruins to Sunday’s championship match with a 4-3 shootout victory in Orlando City Stadium.

Canales did not play a single minute of the scoreless double-overtime draw, but was selected to take UCLA’s final penalty kick. Goalkeeper Teagan Micah saved Duke’s final penalty kick attempt, giving Canales a chance to win the game. She did just that was a powerful right-footed shot slotted to the right of Duke goalkeeper EJ Proctor.

“I love this team so much,” Canales said on the ESPN broadcast. “My team put everything out there that they could in that 120 minutes and I know whatever my role was today, I was going to make sure that my team wins and my team just deserves this win so much. I’m so proud of them.”

The Bruins (19-2-3) will face Stanford on Sunday at 9 a.m. PT on ESPNU after the Cardinal advanced with a 2-0 win over South Carolina. The Pac-12 rivals are tied for the national lead with 113 NCAA championships and the winner will take over the coveted top spot. A victory in the final would give UCLA its second women’s soccer national championship in four years as the Bruins also won in 2013.

Micah had three saves during the game before coming up with the key save on the final penalty kick from Kat McDonald. McDonald, a junior midfielder, took a long run up, but hit a weak shot straight at the UCLA keeper down the middle. Duke also missed a penalty kick off the crossbar.

In a tense defensive struggle, only one of UCLA’s 15 shots during the game fell on frame. It came in the first half from sophomore Jessie Fleming.

Duke (23-2-1) didn’t attempt a single shot in the overtime periods.

No stranger to close games, UCLA already have two one-goal victories in the NCAA tournament this season before Friday’s thriller. After burying her shot, Canales sprinted to her teammates with her arms extended. Tears welled in her eyes as her teammates wrapped her in bear hugs. While speaking on the ESPN broadcast after the win, teammates doused her with Powerade.

The jovial mood quickly turned serious when she was asked about Sunday’s final, a rematch of a conference regular-season game that the Cardinal won 1-0 at Drake Stadium on Oct. 26.

“It’s going to be a great game, but this UCLA team is special,” Canales said, “and we’re going to be…

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