MacKenzie Cerda is known for her attacking abilities.
The senior defender for UCLA women’s soccer occasionally makes runs upfield, contributing to the Bruins’ potent offense and has tallied key goals in her career. But none of them may be as important as the one in her previous game.
Tied at one apiece with No. 8 Virginia, No. 1 UCLA advanced into the Cavaliers’ territory after a flurry of passes. Sophomore midfielder Jessie Fleming found freshman forward Ashley Sanchez in the middle of the opponent’s third.
As defenders surrounded Sanchez, she chipped a leading lob pass towards goal. Cerda corralled the ball, chasing off two defenders. Heading out of bounds, she lined a shot with her left foot across her body just past diving Virginia goalie Laurel Ivory to give UCLA the lead.
The goal turned out to be a game-winner, as the Bruins (7-0) escaped with a 2-1 victory over the Cavaliers (4-2).
UCLA’s offense seemed sluggish out of the gates against BYU and Weber State, but that wasn’t the case against Virginia.
Freshman midfielder Delanie Sheehan skied a lob over the entire Cavalier back line to find Sanchez, who was striding into the box. Sanchez shimmied to her right and flicked a grounder past a diving Ivory for her first goal of the season.
The Cavaliers didn’t remain quiet for long.
A foul during the 38th minute gave them a prime opportunity on a set piece just outside the penalty box. Sophomore forward Taylor Ziemer delivered, curling a laser into the top left corner of the goal.
Virginia had several opportunities, but were foiled every time by UCLA’s sophomore goalkeeper Teagan Micah and the sturdy Bruin back line.
Despite the win, an opponent outshot UCLA for the first time all season 13-5. Virginia tallied five shots on goal, with Micah garnering saves on four opportunities.
The Bruins return home to take on a familiar opponent in the Pepperdine Waves (4-2-1). UCLA triumphed in their previous matchup, a 3-0 win last year.
Pepperdine, though possessing experienced veterans, has a freshman at the helm of the attack in forward Devyn Gilfoy. She leads the team with four goals thus far.
But the Waves possess a handful of threats offensively. Senior forward Bre Visali blitzed down the field on counterattacks in last year’s matchup, while junior midfielder/forward Christina Settles has opened up several opportunities in the opponent’s third.
Pepperdine invests a lot of its manpower in counterattacks, and UCLA has already allowed one goal this season on a solo counterattack – Santa Clara. But the Bruins’ defense has been stable, yielding just one goal across its past three games.
Even when the UCLA defense allowed two goals, which was once this year, the offense provided backup with four goals in that game. The Bruins have outscored opponents 22-6 in 2017.
This is your UCLA women’s soccer vs. Pepperdine game thread.