The UCLA Women’s Soccer team (4-0-0) returns to action tonight with its second road game of this season, as the Bruins head to the Bay Area to play Santa Clara (1-3). Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m. PT. The Broncos return home but continue a brutal stretch versus UCLA, after losing on the road to #25 Wake Forest, 2-1, and against then-#12 Duke, 3-2, in overtime.
UCLA is now ranked #2 in the nation, after home wins versus Florida State and Florida, just 15 points behind #1 North Carolina. The Bruins garnered eight first place votes compared to UNC’s twenty-four votes.
Last Time Out
Last Sunday, UCLA faced the Florida Gators at Wallis Annenberg Stadium. After the squads tied in Gainesville last season, UCLA was looking for the “W.” The Bruins got it.
UCLA beat Florida 2-0, with Marley Canales converting a penalty kick in the 48th minute. The PK was called when the Florida goalkeeper fouled Jessie Fleming in the area as she attempted a shot. The Bruins extended their lead to 2-0 in the 59th minute when Delanie Sheehan crashed the net on a saved ball to score.
The two teams were tied at the half, but UF had several chances in the first 45. UCLA goalkeeper Teagan Micah saved one such ball from close range, and eventually earned the clean sheet. It was Micah’s third of the season and 29th in her UCLA career.
The Bruins are spreading around the wealth on offense. UCLA has eight goals on the season scored by six different players.
The Broncos faced a very tough start to the season. In addition to the aforementioned road loses to Duke and Wake Forest, Santa Clara also fell to #13 Texas A&M, 2-1, but beat the Oregon Ducks, 4-1. The Broncos have scored nine goals on the season but, unfortunately, they have also allowed nine.
If UCLA wants to stop Santa Clara, it should focus on freshman midfielder, Izzy D’Aquila, who has five goals on the season (leading the team) on 13 shots (also leading the team). The JSerra Cathlolic, Mission Viejo (and SoCal Blues) product had a brace against Oregon at home and notched two more goals at Duke. Remember her name. D’Aquila has played extensively for the United States at the U-15 and U-17 levels and it is just a matter of time before she gets her first call-up to the USWNT.
Senior Courtney Ogden has started in goal for the Broncos in all four of their games, playing all but 16 minutes of garbage time versus Oregon. Ogden has allowed all nine goals, while recording 13 saves.
Don’t let the record fool you. Santa Clara was #13 coming into the season, has played a brutal schedule so far, with all of their losses coming against ranked teams. Last season, the Broncos went 17-3-2, making it to the postseason’s round of 32 before falling to NC State on the road on penalties, after a 1-1 draw. Much of that team has returned in 2019, with players who scored 41 of Santa Clara’s 52 goals returning in ‘19.
This should be an interesting challenge for the Bruins, and could be considered a “trap game,” coming off the wins versus the Florida schools and before Wisconsin comes to Westwood one week from Saturday. It reminds me a lot of the Long Beach State game.
I think UCLA will be focused on this one since the next game is nine days away. It might be closer than some think. I predict that the Bruins to prevail, 2-1.