The UCLA Women's Soccer team (3-2-0) faces the University of San Diego Toreros (3-2-1) tonight at Drake Stadium. The Toreros are coming off a 3-2 double overtime win over DePaul, while the Bruins are licking their wounds following a home loss, 2-1, at the hands of #8 North Carolina. Here are the details for the game tonight:
Opponent: University of San Diego Toreros
When: September 11, 2016, at 5:00 p.m.
Where: Drake Stadium
The Toreros are 0-2 on the road this season, dropping a 3-0 contest to Utah at Salt Lake City and falling 2-1 at Wake Forest. This stat is a bit misleading though because USD also played NC State in Winston-Salem and beat them, 1-0 in double overtime, in what is considered a "neutral site" game even though Raleigh is about 100 miles from Winston-Salem and USD is about 2,500 miles away. Speaking of overtime games, USD is pretty good at them, with two wins and a tie.
USD has some nice young talent. Redshirt freshman Amber Michel will start at keeper for USD, and she is having a solid season, with a 1.08 goals against average. Michel has only allowed six goals, and has made 28 saves. She has three clean sheets.
On offense, sophomore Julianna De Armas has made her presence known, notching the game winning golden goal in the second overtime period last Thursday night against the DePaul Blue Demons. De Armas also has an assist on the season. The Toreros, however, are led in scoring by senior midfielder, Jacqueline Altschuld, who has two goals and an assist on the year.
Although the Toreros are solid, UCLA has superior talent. The teams' records are similar, although UCLA has faced far stiffer competition, playing four of their five games against top 16 teams, with losses to Florida and North Carolina, and wins at Texas A&M and versus defending National Champion, Penn State. Conversely, USD has not played a ranked team (Wake Forest is listed in "others receiving votes").
Freshman Jessie Fleming notched another goal in a losing effort against UNC, and now has scored four goals in three games on the season. She is very good but it was evident against a top team like UNC that she still has not completely settled in playing with her new UCLA teammates. She she only been with the squad for a few weeks, so I expect that the chemistry of this UCLA team will improve as the season goes on.
Freshman goalkeeper Teagan Micah continues to play well. Against UNC, she conceded two goals. I believe that one would be hard pressed to find a keeper at the college level who would made either save.
The first was a penalty kick resulting from an undisciplined foul on UCLA defender MacKenzie Cerda well to the outside of the goal mouth. On the PK, Micah guessed correctly, diving to her right, but Annie Kingman of UNC slotted the ball perfectly between Micah's outstretched gloves and the post. Nothing Micah could do.
On the second goal, the Tar Heels played a corner ball that was headed by UCLA outside the top of the box. Playing the ball on a bounce, UNC's Megan Buckingham half-volleyed the ball on a line through a crowd of players past Micah, who appeared to be screened on the shot. A brilliant strike.
UCLA was simply outclassed by UNC's quality on Friday night. Hopefully the Bruins can get back in the win column tonight against a team that they cannot afford to overlook.
UCLA should win this game. Period. The Bruins, however, cannot afford to overlook the Toreros, and will need to be focused. I expect them to be locked in tonight. I am hoping for an offensive explosion against a lesser opponent and a clean sheet from Teagan Micah. My prediction is 3-0, Bruins.
This is your UCLA Women's Soccer versus USD open thread. Go Bruins!!!