The UCLA Women’s Soccer team (6-3-1, 1-2-0 PAC 12) welcomes the Arizona State Sun Devils (6-3-1, 1-1-1) to Westwood this evening, part of a doubleheader with the UCLA Men’s game versus Washington to follow. The UCLA women will kick off at 5 pm PT.
The Bruins will be without two of their top players, Hailie Mace and Jessie Fleming, both of whom were called up to their respective national teams (USWNT for Mace and Team Canada for Fleming) for CONCACAF Women’s World Cup 2019 qualifying play, which begins today and ends on October 17th. Fleming, the engine in the Bruin midfield, has been missed, as she has lost time due to injury and a prior Team Canada call up for friendlies last month. UCLA is 3-0 with Fleming, and 3-3-1 without her.
Due to their call ups, Mace and Fleming will also miss at least the next three games on the schedule (Arizona State, Arizona, and Washington). Depending on how far their teams go in the tournament (both are expected to reach the knockout stage), Mace and/or Fleming will also miss Oregon on October 18th, and maybe even Oregon State on October 21st.
Even without Mace and Fleming, the Bruins have enough talent to prevail against the Sun Devils. Despite their identical overall records, UCLA has played a much tougher schedule, with the three losses coming against #1 (and undefeated) Stanford, #7 undefeated and untied Washington State, and #10 Florida State.
Another issue of note is UCLA’s keeper situation. Teagan Micah, UCLA’s experienced junior goalkeeper, did not play against Wazzou or Stanford, but came into the game for the second half against Berkeley with UCLA up 2-0, making three saves. Instead it was freshman Lauren Brzykcy who played against the Cougars, the Cardinal, and the first half against the Golden Bears. Who will start for the Bruins this evening, Micah or Brzykcy?
The Bruins are an all time 18-1-2 against Arizona State, with the only Sun Devil win coming in 2000.
Arizona State’s best win this season came at UC Berkeley, 2-1 (the same Golden Bears team that UCLA crushed last week, 4-0). Their other five wins came against Montana, Weber State, Northern Arizona, South Dakota State, and Southeast Missouri State. The Sun Devils have also lost (at home) to New Hampshire. I think it is fair to say that the Bruins—even without Mace and Fleming—are far superior to those teams.
The Sun Devils are coming off a 2-0 loss at home to Utah last Sunday. The Utes scored the opener with only 13 second left in the first half, deflating the Sun Devils going into halftime. ASU conceded another about ten minutes into the second half, and although ASU outshot the Utes 11 to 4 in the second half, they could not find the back of the net to get back into the game.
ASU is led by a trio of freshmen, with forward Nicole Douglas leading the team with six goals. Midfielder Alexia Delgado has three tallies on the season, and Cori Sullivan, who can play up front or in the back, has found the back of the net twice.
The Sun Devils have played two different goalkeepers this season, with sophomore Nikki Panas playing every minute of Arizona State’s Pac-12 schedule, and a total of six of ASU’s ten games. Sydney Day, a senior, has played in the other four games, the last being their non-conference finale in a 1-0 clean sheet against Weber State. Expect to see Panas in net tonight.
I expect UCLA to take it to Arizona State. The Sun Devils will bunker in against the UCLA attack, but UCLA will solve the puzzle three times. I predict that the Bruins win by the score of 3-0.
This is your UCLA Women’s Soccer versus Arizona State Sun Devils open thread. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.