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Bruin Bites: Women's Soccer Shows How a #1 Team Performs

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In an otherwise forgettable week of UCLA athletics, UCLA Women's Soccer won a monster showdown at Drake Stadium over #3 Stanford. The Bruins have reached the heights with the 2013 National Championship, and show no signs of letting down. Meanwhile, at the Rose Bowl, on the Stanford and Cal soccer fields, at Spieker Aquatics Center, and at whatever the venue of the week is for volleyball, the Bruins stumbled big time. "You're doing a heck of a job, Dan".

The Bruins stay on the winning track
The Bruins stay on the winning track
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There are a couple of burning questions after last week's events in UCLA athletics.

If UCLA goes to the Cactus Bowl as the 7th conference selection, can we still get some Buffalo Wild Wings, even if they aren't the bowl sponsor anymore?

If Doughnut can give TIARA a contract extension in October with no apparent rationale, can he also give one to coaches who actually deserve one?

---- At the top of my list for a longer term would be Amanda Cromwell, one of the absolute best hires to date of the Doughnut era. After taking UCLA to the national championship in her first season, she again has the Bruins rolling towards a deep postseason run. On Friday night, #1 ranked UCLA faced #3 Stanford at Drake Stadium.

Stanford scored the first goal of the match in the 53rd minute. At that point, the UCLA assistant coaches threw down their clipboards, and stormed off the field, flipping the fans off as they left. Oh wait. Wrong sport. Actually, what happened was the Bruins stormed back as an unstoppable force, scoring two goals in the last 13 minutes to pull out a 2-1 victory. Senior defender Ally Courtnall tied the match in the 77th minute on a shot into the top right corner, with assists from Annie Alvarado and Darian Jenkins. And then sophomore midfielder Alvarado scored the winning goal in the 85th minute, with an assist on a great through ball from Sam Mewis. Here is the box score.

With that result, UCLA stays unbeaten at 11-0-2, 3-0-1 in conference. Stanford is now 11-1-2, 3-1-1 in conference. Most importantly for the future, UCLA now has a serious marker when it comes to national seeding discussions for the postseason. And we need it, after last year's fiasco. Next up for the Bruins is a home match tonight against #22 Cal. Game time is 7pm.

----The men's soccer team did not fare as well. The Bruins came into the week ranked #2. They won't fall out of the top 25, as another team did, but they won't stay at #2 either after a loss and a tie on the road. UCLA played at #22 Cal on Friday night, and fell behind 2-0 before battling back with two late goals to send the game to overtime. The Bruin goals were scored by junior forward Larry Ndjock and by junior defender Javan Torre. Unfortunately, Cal had the answer with a golden goal in the 99th minute to claim the win. Here is the box score for the Cal match.

UCLA then traveled to #15 Stanford for a match on Sunday night. In this match UCLA was able to claim the early lead, with a goal by senior defender Aaron Simmons in the 49th minute. Stanford answered back in the 57th minute, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. Courtesy of the Stanford athletic department, here is the box score. There is no information on the UCLA website about the game, three hours after it ended. It is clear that Doughnut needs to add staff. He is so busy with contract extensions for his basketball coach and supervising the new floor at OPUG (which apparently is designed to allow Bryce to dunk without standing on Tony Parker's shoulders). He can't be expected to provide timely information on the #2 team in the country in another sport.

With the weekend results, UCLA is now tied for 4th in the six team Pac-12 conference with 4 points from 3 games. But the Bruins have a game in hand, compared to 3rd place Cal. Being a West Brom fan, I would normally be ecstatic about 4 points from 3 games for any of my teams. But we are talking about a team which is supposed to have top five recruiting classes every year, so a 6-3-3 record overall, 1-1-1 in conference seems less than perfect. Next up are home matches on Thursday night against Washington and Sunday night against Oregon State.

----UCLA had another #1 team before this weekend's action, the Men's Water Polo team. That ranking will now be a memory, as the Bruins lost twice in our own SoCal Tourney on Sunday. The Bruins opened the tourney on Saturday with easy wins over #20 St. Francis of NY 15-7 and #8 UCSD 17-5.

That was the high water mark (as it were). In the semi-finals, the Bruins faced #4 $C. After taking an early 2-1 lead, the Bruins watched as $C took a 5-2 lead after the 1st period, 6-4 at half, 10-4 after the 3rd period, and a final score of 6-10 Trogans.

Later, in the 3rd place game, UCLA and #2 Stanford met. And after falling behind 2-0, the Bruins fought back to a 3-3 tie in the 2nd period. Stanford responded with three straight goals, and held on to defeat UCLA 6-7. UCLA did manage balanced scoring on Sunday, as there were six different goal scorers for the Bruins in game 1, and six different goal scorers for the Bruins in game 2. But if that is the strategy, holding the opponent to five or fewer would be useful.

Fortunately, this season is a long way from over. UCLA had defeated $C and Stanford back to back on September 21 to win the NorCal tourney. There is very little separation between the top four teams, and there is then a big drop-off. The Bruins travel north next week, to meet Cal in a big match on Saturday morning before the football game.

----A couple of quick notes on other teams in action. The Men's Golf team used an excellent final round to claim the Erin Hills Intercollegiate Tourney in Wisconsin. And the women's volleyball team split two matches. In a "home" match in Malibu, the #17 Bruins beat unranked Utah in five sets on Friday night. Scores were 22-25, 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 15-13. In another "home" match in Malibu on Sunday, the Bruins lost to unranked Colorado in four sets. Scores were 25-23, 24-26, 12-25 (ouch), 17-25 (ouch). The Bruins have two more "home" matches this week, facing #11 Oregon on Wednesday night and unranked Oregon State on Friday night. These matches will be played at Crossroads School in Santa Monica. I imagine that getting the chance to play varsity Division I volleyball in a high school gym would not be a huge selling point. But this is Doughnut's world.

Special thanks to the members of the BN community who have been providing super previews and in game reports on our Olympic Sports- here's to you Cara H. and Oxton in particular.

Let's hope that the women's soccer team mojo can rub off on the rest of our teams.

Go Bruins !!