After a tough weekend at Drake Stadium last week, which saw the UCLA Women’s Soccer team draw #11 UC Berkeley and lose in double overtime to #3 Stanford (all rankings are from the NSCAA coaches poll), the #14 Bruins (9-3-1; 3-1-1 PAC 12) head to the desert to face Arizona Wildcats (6-6-1; 1-4 PAC 12) tonight. Here are the details of the game:
Opponent: Arizona Wildcats
When: Thursday, October 13, 2016, 7 p.m. PT
Where: Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium, Tuscon, Arizona
How to Follow: PAC 12 Network; Live Stats
After a promising start to the season, the ‘Cats are in a bit of a freefall right now, losing five of their last six games. Four of the losses during that time were to PAC 12 schools. A glance at Arizona’s early season schedule shows the reason for them winning early, but not in the PAC 12. Arizona did not play tough competition out of conference, except for Pepperdine in Malibu, a game the Wildcats lost, 3-1.
It does not figure to get any easier against UCLA, even in Tucson. The Wildcats are only 3-3 at home, 0-2 in the PAC 12.
The Wildcats have balanced scoring, with five players registering three or more goals. The team scoring leader is junior midfielder Gabi Stoian, who has four goals and five assists. Senior forward Paige Crouch also has five goals to go with one assist. The Wildcats have only been shut out in two games this season, against Southern Cal in L.A. and against Colorado in Tuscon, two worthy opponents
Arizona had played two goalkeepers this season, but I expect sophomore Lainey Burdett to play tonight for the ‘Cats. Burdett has played in ten of Arizona’s 13 games, giving up only 11 goals, for a 1.10 goals against average. Burdett has recorded five clean sheets.
Last week was a tough week for the UCLA Bruins. They lost senior forward Darian Jenkins for the season, ending her UCLA career. They tied UC Berkeley, 1-1, although that could have been a loss. UCLA tied the game in the 90th minute, despite the Berkeley keeper "standing on her head" (a hockey term), making several jaw-dropping saves including a diving save on a Jessie Fleming shot late in the contest.
Then, the Bruins lost to Stanford, 3-2, in double overtime. The Bruins dipped in the national polls and went from being tied for first in conference to sitting alone in 6th place in the ultra-competitive PAC 12 conference.
The road has been kind to the Bruins. UCLA is 5-0 away from home this season.
Despite playing in only ten of UCLA’s 13 games, freshman Jessie Fleming leads the team in goals with eight. She scored the equalizer against Stanford to send the game into overtime. Freshman Anika Rodriguez is also playing well, leading the team with six assists to go with a goal of her own. She and senior Amber Munerlyn (three goals; three assists) will need to step up to pick up some of the scoring slack in Jenkins’ absence.
Freshman goalkeeper Teagan Micah has played every minute in goal for the Bruins, and she has 51 saves, six clean sheets, and a 1.04 goals against average to show for it.
UCLA should win this game. I predict that UCLA scores two, but Arizona gets one late to make it interesting in the closing minutes. UCLA escapes Tuscon with a 2-1 win.
This is your UCLA Women's soccer versus Arizona Wildcat open thread. Fire away in the comment section below. Go Bruins!!!