The #8 UCLA women’s soccer team (12-3-1, 7-2-0) continues its road trip in the Mountain Time Zone today, with an afternoon clash against the #20 Colorado Buffaloes. Kickoff is at 1 pm PT.
Coming into the UCLA game, the Buffs have played the #1 and #2 teams in the nation back-to-back. Stanford and Southern Cal dealt Colorado its only two losses of the season in those last games, with the Cardinal plastering the Buffs, 7-0, and the Trojans edging Colorado, 1-0. Can the Bruins extend their seven-game winning streak at the expense of the Buffs? Or will Colorado break its slide against elite competition?
Last Time Out
On Thursday night, UCLA battered the Utah Utes (8-8-1, 5-4) by the score of 5-1. The Bruins got 5 goals from 5 different players in a very balanced attack.
The Bruins started things off early, in the 4th minute, when Karina Rodriguez nodded home a corner kick from Ashley Sanchez, who might be the Bruins’ MVP this season. Chloe Castaneda made it 2-0 Bruins in the 28th minute.
Although Utah cut the lead to 2-1 early in the season half, Delanie Sheehan restored UCLA’s two-goal cushion less than four minutes later and the Bruins piled on later in the half with goals from Jessie Fleming and Dani Satterwhite, the latter of whom scored her 1st goal in a UCLA kit. Congrats, Dani!
The Bruins out-shot the Utes, 17-3 (11-1 shots on goal).
Colorado has been the surprise of the Pac-12 this season. Until last weekend, the Buffs were undefeated, with three ties. I doubt that many saw that type of start to the season from Colorado, even though the Buffs made the postseason last year when they eventually lost in the second round.
Colorado’s undefeated season came apart in a big (seven goal) way against Stanford in Palo Alto. Then came Southern Cal’s 1-0 win over the Buffs on Thursday night. Now, Colorado will try to snap its two-game losing streak by beating the Bruins and, perhaps, staking a claim to a top 3 Pac-12 finish.
The Buffs have tons of offense, scoring 48 goals so far this season while UCLA only has 39, but has played two less games. Most of that comes from a trio of star upperclassmen, senior forward Jorian Baucom (12 goals, 6 assists), junior midfielder Taylor Kornieck (8 goals, 10 assists), and junior forward Tatum Barton (11 goals, 4 assists).
Although Scout Watson has gotten a few starts in net and has played almost 500 minutes this season, expect junior Jalen Tompkins to get the start today. Tompkins has started 16 of Colorado’s 18 games and has played most of the time against the Buffs’ better competition.
For the Bruins, the competition ramps up starting now. UCLA needs to continue the momentum from its seven-game winning streak with a win in Boulder, setting up a showdown against Southern Cal in the regular season finale at the Stub Hub Center next Friday night.
Most teams bunker in against UCLA and hope to score on the counterattack. Colorado has too much offensive firepower and I think that the Buffs will try to take the game to UCLA and possibly try to out-possess the Bruins. This would be a major risk/reward gamble for Colorado’s head coach, Danny Sanchez.
I predict that, ultimately, such a strategy will not completely work against UCLA and that the Bruins will win a close one on the road. I guess, 3-2, but it could also be 2-1.
This is you UCLA women’s soccer versus Colorado Buffaloes open thread.