The frustration, disappointment and fatigue were obvious. Several Duke players dropped to the ground, while others hid their faces with jerseys pulled over their heads.
After a physical and hard-fought battle, UCLA's Sal Zizzo scored the golden goal 30 seconds into the first overtime period, abruptly ending top-seeded Duke's bid for a national championship.
With a Final Four bid on the line this time around, the Blue Devils' season ended just as it did a year ago-with their opponent celebrating at Koskinen Stadium.
Duke scored two first-half goals, but they were not enough as UCLA (13-5-4) came from behind to upset the Blue Devils (18-4-1), 3-0, Sunday afternoon in the NCAA quarterfinals.
The Bruins advance to play Virginia in the NCAA College Cup's Final Four, which begins Friday in St. Louis.
"We're very disappointed with the result today," Duke head coach John Rennie said. "We certainly didn't help ourselves, but we lost to a very, very good team."
Down 2-1 in the second half, Zizzo scored the first of his two in the 78th minute to knot the score. Zizzo slammed the ball into the bottom left corner of the net on a corner play-the same one UCLA had successfully used in the second round of the College Cup against Harvard.
"We knew exactly what they were going to do," Rennie said. "We were all set for it, and one of our guys falls asleep and watches the ball instead of runs with his man. And that guy scores. It happens in a split second."
Neither team could push the go-ahead goal across in the waning minutes of regulation, but it did not take long for the game to be decided in overtime.
UCLA midfielder Jason Leopoldo-who netted the Bruins' first goal of the game in the 41st minute to help them bounce back from an early 2-0 deficit-weaved past a Duke defender along the end line and played the ball to Zizzo making a near-post run. The UCLA sophomore drilled the ball past Blue Devil goalkeeper Justin Papadakis for the deciding score.
"We scored three goals every playoff game," Zizzo said. "We knew if we held them to two goals, we were going to get that game-winner."
The Bruins' decisive score came after a second half in which Duke dominated possession but could not manage to finish any of its chances to make the score 3-1.
In the first half, UCLA generated a number of scoring opportunities-they had nine shots, several of which seriously challenged Papadakis-but only managed the one goal.
Although Duke struggled to stop the talented UCLA offense from pushing into its defensive third, the Blue Devils entered halftime with the lead. Spencer Wadsworth beat Bruins goalkeeper Eric Reed just 25 seconds into the game and Loftus hammered home Duke's second goal in the 19th minute off a corner from Wadsworth.
"I don't think they were expecting us to score that early into the game," senior Chris Loftus said. "After that goal and the second one, I think they calmed down."
With UCLA pressing Duke's defense, however, Rennie took Loftus out in favor of Tomek Charowski in an attempt to gain better possession at midfield. The move worked for most of the second half, as Duke's defense contained the Bruins' offense to just three shots in the period.
"They had no scoring chances in the second half," Rennie said. "It could have been 3-1 or 4-1, and we didn't get the third goal.
"The third one-that's the ballgame."
Duke's loss marks the end of the careers of Blue Devil seniors Loftus, Kyle Helton, Danny Miller, Ryan Pascioni, Chase Perfect and Scott Siegel.
The Bruins next play Virginia, which beat Notre Dame, 3-2, in overtime Friday. UC-Santa Barbara and Wake Forest also advanced to the Final Four.
"We showed a lot of character to fight back from 2-0, on the road against the No. 1 team in the country," UCLA head coach Jorge Salcedo said. "[Duke] had a great year, and for them to lose the way they did, I'm sure is very difficult. Duke's a great team-hats off to them and their season."
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