Ashley Sanchez and Annika Rodriguez did it again.
With the score tied at one apiece, Sanchez dribbled up the middle of the field while in the opponent’s third and grounded a through ball to Rodriguez. The redshirt sophomore was a step ahead of the defenders and slipped a shot into the right side of the goal.
That sealed it.
UCLA women’s soccer (18-2-2) walked out of Drake Stadium with a 2-1 victory against Virginia (13-6-4) in the Sweet Sixteen matchup. It was the Bruins’ second victory over the Cavaliers this year.
Both teams used the long ball to notch their first two goals.
A Virginia player rocketed a moonshot of a pass from near-midfield into the UCLA box. The ball grazed Veronica Latsko’s head right over the hands of Bruin goalie Teagan Micah to give the Cavaliers the 1-0 lead.
UCLA took no time to answer back.
Sanchez strode down the field and received a long lob pass from the back line. Just as she was about to take her shot, a Virginia defender ran into her, yielding a penalty kick.
Sophomore midfielder Jessie Fleming took it from there, recording an easy goal into the right side of the cage on a penalty kick. It was her fifth goal of the season and her second in a Sweet Sixteen game for her career.
The Bruins defended their turf for the remainder of the affair, allowing just two more shots on goal. They outshot the Cavaliers 14-9 and had five more shots on goal in the bout.
Fourth-seeded Princeton (16-2-1) is the next team to enter Westwood with a chance to oust UCLA. The Tigers upset a top-seeded North Carolina team that ranked No. 2 in the nation prior to the tournament in overtime a week ago.
The last time the two teams faced each other was in 2012, when UCLA routed Princeton 7-0. That was during the pre-Amanda Cromwell era.
Both team’s possess similar numbers on the season. Each team’s offense averages more than two goals a game, but the Tigers have surrendered fewer goals on the season. That being said, they do not play in the competitive Pac-12 in conference play.
Still, Princeton allowed just eight goals up to this point, so UCLA will have to break past the Tigers’ sturdy backfield barricade.
Offensively, Princeton is a three-headed monster, with a trio of threats. Abby Givens, Courtney O’Brien and Mimi Asom each have more than eight goals on the year and have combined for 11 assists as well.
The Bruin defense will have its hands full for 90 minutes – or more – Saturday.
This is your UCLA women’s soccer vs. Princeton game thread.