While many Bruin fans have September 3rd circled on their calendar as the day UCLA starts its college football season, the UCLA Fall Sports calendar starts today when the UCLA Women’s Soccer team takes on San Diego State in San Diego.
To be sure, last season was nothing to write home about. The team finished 8-10-1 and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 19 years.
But, Amanda Cromwell and the Women’s Soccer team have reason to be hopeful as they kickoff the 2016 season tonight.
While the team certainly has attracted some top talent this year, the team will be without top recruit Mallory Pugh who has deferred her enrollment until 2017. But, the rest of this year’s newcomers are certainly nothing to sneeze at.
In addition to the number 1 recruit in Pugh, the team is adding this year’s number 2 recruit Marley Canales and No. 7 recruit Jessie Fleming, who just today won a bronze medal in Rio as part of the Canadian women’s soccer team.
Fleming played a key part in the victory over host team Brazil as she helped set up the game-winning goal with a steal and pass to Deanne Rose. Fleming is expected to join the team next week.
In an article today on TopDrawerSoccer.com, Will Parchman wrote that Fleming "was arguably the best player on the field."
If the combo of Canales and Fleming isn’t enough to lead UCLA to its second women’s soccer national championship this year, then the addition of Pugh, Ashley Sanchez and Karina Rodriguez in next year’s recruiting class may very well be.
Parchman compares the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes to the UNC women’s soccer dynasty. He writes:
2017 is when things click in place and UCLA becomes the basis for what could become the scariest team in women’s college soccer since Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly suited up next to one another at UNC 25 years ago.
UCLA returns eight starters this season including goalkeeper Siri Ervik; defenders Zoey Goralski, Hailie Mace and MacKenzie Cerda; midfielders Annie Alvarado, Lauren Kaskie and Claire Winter; and forward Darian Jenkins. Cerda has moved into a left back role from forward for this season.
In addition to Fleming and Canales, the team will feature a host of newcomers. Forward/midfielder Anika Rodriguez and midfielder Chloe Castaneda will be on this year’s roster after redshirting last season. Sophomore forward Julia Hernandez transferred to UCLA from Eastern Florida State College.
In addition to Fleming and Canales, there are three more incoming freshman who are a part of the Bruins’ #1-ranked recruiting class. They are Jacey Pederson, Sunny Dunphy and Kaiya McCullough.
Overall, the influx of talent into the program this year and next should make it an exciting time for Bruin women’s soccer fans and this year’s team should be much improved over last season.
The Bruins kickoff tonight against San Diego State at 7 pm.
How To Watch, Listen, and Stream:
- Friday, August 19, 2016, 7:00 pm PT
- SDSU SportsDeck, San Diego, CA
This is your women’s soccer season opening open thread.