The #9 UCLA Women's Soccer team welcomes the #8 North Carolina Tar Heels to Drake Stadium tonight at 7 p.m. Here are the details of the game:
Opponent: North Carolina Tar Heels
When: September 9, 2016, at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Drake Stadium
North Carolina visits Los Angeles this weekend for a pair of games against UCLA and Southern Cal. First up are the Bruins.
UNC comes into the game undefeated on the season, with the only chink in its armor a 0-0 tie against rival Duke in Durham, N.C. The Tar Heels have wins over Charlotte, Villanova, UCF, and Florida Atlantic. Three of those victories were clean sheets. The Heels allowed two goals at Florida Atlantic, but netted three of their own for the road win.
UNC's goalkeeper, senior Lindsey Harris, who has handled most of the keeping duties on the season, has recorded 19 saves on the season and has an excellent goals against average of 0.41. She was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Week last week.
On offense, the Heels are led by freshman forward, Zoe Redei, who leads the team in goals with three on 19 shots. Junior midfielder, Annie Kingman also has a goal and three assists. Another attacking threat is freshman forward, Bridgette Andrzejewski, who has two goals on thirteen shots. The UCLA back line will need to stay well organized and constantly keep tabs on those three players.
UCLA is coming off of a big overtime 1-0 win against the defending National Champions, Penn State, last Friday night. Jessie Fleming has joined the Bruin squad for the last two games and, fresh off a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, the Canadian international has already made a splash at UCLA, scoring three goals in two games, including the overtime winner against Penn State:
If that isn't enough to get you excited about Jessie Fleming and what she means to UCLA Women's soccer this season, check out this GIF of her burning a Florida Gator in her first game in a UCLA uniform:
Oh, what a move! Yes, UCLA lost the Florida game 4-3 in overtime, but it wasn't because of Fleming, who had two goals in her UCLA debut.
Of course, UCLA is more than Fleming.
In each of its three wins, UCLA has not allowed a goal. Freshman keeper, Teagan Micah has played well, making six saves in her last game against Penn State.
UCLA's back line has performed well, including freshman Kaiya McCullough, junior Zoey Goralski, junior MacKenzie Cerda, and sophomore Hailie Mace, each of whom started and played every minute for UCLA against Penn State.
On offense, senior forward Darian Jenkins has tallied three goals of her own on the season, tying Fleming for the UCLA lead, and has also added an assist. So the Bruins appear to have the firepower along with the defense to make for a challenging match tonight.
This is a very good test for UCLA. I think that playing at home, as opposed to 3,000 miles away from home, is a big advantage for the Bruins. Also, UNC will be playing at 10 p.m. their time. I am a big believer that these little travel issues can have an impact upon performance. UNC prominently features several freshmen, including their top two goal-scorers, Redei and Andrzejewski, who are on their first long road trip of their college careers. (A one and 1/2 hour flight to FAU without switching time zones is not a "long" trip).
I think the travel factor tips the balance slightly in UCLA's favor in what would otherwise be a toss-up on a neutral field. I am going with UCLA for the win, 2-1. Jessie Fleming will score one of UCLA's two goals.
Then, on Sunday, North Carolina can get a consolation win over Southern California for their efforts.
This is your UCLA Women's soccer vs. North Carolina open thread. Go Bruins!