Back in early February, UCLA announced a women’s soccer match between the Bruins and Seattle Reign FC from the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Tuesday night, they met in Norco, under the lights of the SilverLakes soccer complex.
The Bruins are in the middle of their spring season while the Reign are just a little over a week from the start of the regular season. While the Bruins looked solid, they were no match for Seattle, losing 2–3.
From the first blow of the whistle, Seattle took control of the game. They hit UCLA from all sides using the flank and the middle to create chances. The Bruin defense was going to be on their toes all night. Fifteen minutes in and the Bruins committed a foul outside of the box for a Seattle free kick. Nahomi Kawasumi scored on Bruin goalkeeper Teagan Micah who was only able to get a hand on the ball before it hit the back of the net. The next 20 minutes remained the same. Seattle would launch an attack. UCLA would clear the ball and try to attack on the counter before being dispossessed by the Reign defense. That was until the 35th minute, when on a counter attack Anika Rodriguez took the opportunity of a high Seattle backline to go up the left flank to get the ball past goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer.
In the second half, UCLA came out more secure with a 1 – 1 game, knowing it can go either way. They took the lead 10 minutes in on a corner kick after every player scrambled to get to the ball. The ball fell to the feet of Sunny Dunphy who did not hesitate to hit the ball in to shock Seattle and take the lead. While this goal energized the Bruins, Seattle did not sit back and continued to hit them with countless attacks. The defense tried to hold on, but they were no match. Minutes later, Seattle tied it up after Kiersten Dallstream fought off defenders to shoot it past Micah. It looked as if the game would remain a draw as neither defense was going to crumble with only minutes left.
With time running down, it was deja vu for the Bruins as they were called for a foul which resulted in another Seattle free kick. This time, Christine Nairn was the shooter, but the result was the same and Seattle took a 3-2 lead. Unfortunately, time ran out before the Bruins could come up with an equalizer.
While a loss always stings, this one won’t as much as others. This game was more of a scrimmage to see where both teams are currently at, with UCLA in the middle of the spring season and Seattle close to the NWSL opener. When I heard about the match, I just hoped they would be able to compete. Considering they were playing a professional team, the Bruins held their own. UCLA gave Seattle (and the sold out crowd) an intense game. Both teams were also missing crucial players since some players were on international duty with their respective countries including Jessie Fleming and Mal Pugh who were missing for UCLA.
It’s early. The 2017 season won’t start until late August, but UCLA can have a spectacular season this year. They had a solid performance against a team which almost made it to the NWSL playoffs last season.