Thus, Alabama’s dream trip came to an end.
A program a year removed from its first NCAA tournament win, the Crimson Tide’s season ended one game short of a title. UCLA finished with a 3-0 win over Alabama in the NCAA semifinals.
The season ended with a 23-3-1 record for an Alabama team that never produced the offense that fueled this breakout season.
This was a Crimson Tide team that averaged 20.3 shots (No. 4 nationally) and 2.92 goals (No. 2) a game but couldn’t manage that level of production against the Bruins. UCLA outshot the Tide, 20-11 including 11-7 in shots on goal.
The shutout was the first of the season for an Alabama team that had scored more than two touchdowns all season.
“We don’t want this game to define us,” Alabama coach Wes Hart said. “I was proud of our effort. We fought and we continued to fight and compete.”
She had her chances. It seemed to break through a scoreless first half with a ball that Riley Mattingly tied Parker toward the net. The celebration was short lived as the offside call was made.
“It was sad,” she said. “It’s definitely not nice to get that goal, obviously. What a good ball that Felicia (Knox) and I just put in for her and I was like ‘sweeeeeet.’ I was getting ready to celebrate and I looked up and saw the honorable man raising his flag.”
Then after half-time, a pair of shots missed the post by mere inches.
UCLA, meanwhile, lost in the 29th minute with Reilyn Turner’s goal. They led 1-0 at half-time, before an impressive two minutes of play ended. Quincy McMahon and Madelyn Desiano’s goals in the 51st and 53rd minutes turned into a break.
“They threw some incredible pitches,” Parker said. “Hello to them. Two of these were neutral. That is, they were dirty. Actually, above 90. What are you talking about?”
Hart said he thinks the Tide will be able to pressure UCLA a little more and create a few more comebacks.
“But let’s be fair,” he said. “It’s a very good team.”
After leading a program that to this point was no more than an NCAA berth, Hart hasn’t lost perspective on the bigger picture.
“No one,” he said, “except for these players and 27 others in the locker room, before this season started, nobody believed in us. We weren’t picked in any preseason polls. Nobody gave us any love or affection. I hope that we made many people believe with the records we broke this season.”
Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande or about Facebook.