The UCLA women’s soccer team and rookie head coach Margueritte Aozasa made history on Monday in more ways than one after the Bruins defeated UNC 3-2 to win the 2022 Women’s College Cup.
The NCAA Division I national title match at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, between top-seeded UCLA and No. 2-ranked UNC proved to be an exhilarating one, as the Bruins rallied from an 0-2 deficit to emerge victorious over the Tar Heels in overtime, making them the first squad to win the women’s soccer championship after trailing two goals.
With the win, the 32-year-old Aozasa, who is of mixed Japanese descent, became the only head coach to ever lead a women’s soccer squad to an NCAA title during their first year at the helm. She is also only the second Asian American and fourth female head coach to win the title
Aozasa is the UCLA women’s soccer program’s sixth-ever head coach
, having been hired in December 2021 after a seven-year tenure as an assistant coach at Stanford. She is currently one of only six Asian American women serving as a head coach for an NCAA women’s soccer team and was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year
The Tar Heels appeared poised to nab their 23rd national title after leading 2-0 in the championship game with only 10 minutes left in regulation. It was then that UCLA’s Lexi Wright scored a goal off of a rebound from North Carolina goalkeeper Emmie Allen, putting the Bruins at a 2-1 striking distance that became 2-2 after Reilyn Turner headed a corner kick with only 16 seconds left, forcing overtime.
The game was won when Maricarmen Reyes scored the go-ahead goal — the final kick
of her collegiate career — during the 107th minute off of a rebound from Allen.
“I’m just amazed by this team and the grit that they show and the character they showed today,” Aozasa said. “I even had my doubts at 2-0, but quite honestly no one on the field did and they just found a way.”
She added: “The rollercoaster of emotion I think we all felt, I cried many times during that game – happy and sad. We’ve said from the beginning of these playoffs that our care and love for each other and love for this program was going to be what was going to carry us through, and you saw that tonight.”
The win gave UCLA its second women’s soccer national title, with the previous in 2013 also being decided in overtime. North Carolina came into the game hoping to become only the third team
in NCAA women’s soccer history to defeat the No. 1 seed for the title.
Feature image via Getty