A year ago, this had been the goal.
The UCLA men's soccer team had a fine season in 2013 but fell short of its standards. The Bruins hadn't won a national championship, so the season had been a disappointment. The next year, they decided, would have to be different.
In a sense, everything the Bruins (14-4-5) have done since being eliminated in last season's NCAA tournament was to prepare for a game like Sunday, when they will play Virginia (13-6-3) for the national championship in Cary, N.C.
Now, their opportunity is here. After a dramatic penalty-kick finish against North Carolina to make the semifinal game, and an overtime winner against Providence to advance to the finals, UCLA will face the Cavaliers, who beat Maryland Baltimore County, 1-0, even though the Retrievers hadn't given up a goal all tournament.
The matchup is a grudge match of sorts for UCLA. In the women's tournament, Virginia eliminated previously unbeaten UCLA to advance to the College Cup.
The two programs have a combined 10 national championships, six by Virginia, though UCLA is 3-0 in NCAA tournament meetings, including a win in the 1997 national championship game.