Beyond forgiveness are the bonehead-ed NCAA committee members who scheduled the semis and final without a rest day between. It should have been a lively final. UCLA's lone loss this year was a 2-1 decision to Rutgers in October. Both teams play fast-paced soccer and in Rutgers striker Steve Rammel and UCLA midfielder Chris Henderson, each possessed one of the most feared players in the college game. Weariness prevailed, however, in an even game: Each team took 22 shots. Late in the second half, with fans shouting, "Do something," the 5'5", 135-pound Thompson, whose mates call him Wee Man, squirted past two defenders and slid a shot by Andracki. It hit the post, and Thompson shot the rebound high.
After another scoreless hour of overtime, during which some players collapsed with leg cramps, the final shootout began. Before each shot, Friedel stretched his long arms skyward and grabbed the eight-foot crossbar. The sight seemed to rattle Rutgers' second and third shooters. Rammel shanked one wide right, and Mueller's shot went high. "Mueller didn't look confident," said Friedel. "He stared at me when I was touching the post. I looked at him and thought, Hmmm." After UCLA's Sam George failed, Joe-Max Moore, Tim Gallegos, and Henderson all tallied, leaving Salcedo to nail down the 4-3 win.
Although staging a tie-breaking shootout was an improvement on simply declaring co-champions, as was done after last year's 1-1 final between Virginia and Santa Clara, it still concluded matters rather awkwardly. "The shoot-out has nothing to do with it," said Lalas. "We could have come out at three o'clock, flipped a coin and saved everybody the trouble." In these games with more zeros than heroes, he may have had a point.