The #2 seeded UCLA women’s soccer team (15-3-1) faces the Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-8-2) tonight in the Second Round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament with a 7:30 pm PT kickoff at Wallis Annenberg Stadium.
Here is the bracket. As you can see, the winner of the contest between UCLA and Minnesota will go on to face the winner of Santa Clara versus North Carolina State, which will kickoff at Wallis Annenberg Stadium at 5 pm, immediately before the Bruins square off against the Golden Gophers.
Last Time Out
In their first round game, the Bruins struck early and often in a thoroughly dominating performance against the San Jose State Spartans. Jessie Fleming nodded home a Hailie Mace cross in the 13th minute to get things started for the Bruins and both Fleming and Mace assisted Ashley Sanchez’s goal five minutes later, putting UCLA up 2-0, in the 18th minute.
UCLA would score two more goals right around the 30 minute mark, first by Viviana Villacorta and then by Ashley Sanchez, earning the latter a brace.
The Bruins went into halftime up 4-0 and it could have been worse.
After the break, Marley Canales converted a penalty kick from the spot in the 49th minute, and UCLA cleared the benches after that. Head Coach Amanda Cromwell used ten players off her bench in preserving the 5-0 victory (and getting experience for her depth players). Take notice, Coaches Alford and Inouye-Perez!
The Bruins are now winners of ten consecutive games and are undefeated and untied when Jessie Fleming plays.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota has gotten hot at the right time, going 3-0-1 in their last four games. Going into the Big Ten tournament, the Golden Gophers were 9-8-1. They won their first two games of that tournament and, then, beat Penn State in the Final on penalties, 5-4, after regular time and two ten-minute overtimes still resulted in a 0-0 draw. That earned Minnesota the automatic Big Ten berth even though it went into the books as one of the two Minnesota draws this season.
Then, last week, in the first round, the Golden Gophers traveled to warmer climes at Auburn and beat up on the favored Tigers, with goals in the 61st and 80th minutes, earning the 2-0 win, a clean sheet, and a date at UCLA. Minnesota is actually a very good team away from home, sporting a 6-2-1 record.
Minnesota has scored 31 goals this season. 13 of them were scored by senior forward, April Brockin. The next two highest scorers senior midfielder Mollie Fielder and freshman midfielder Megan Gray both have three goals each. On defense, the Bruins need to find a way to neutralize Brockin and keep a wary eye on Gray and Fielder and make someone else try to beat them.
Maddie Nielsen will start in goal for Minnesota. She’s played all but 31 minutes this season, has a 0.93 goals against average, and has registered nine clean sheets.
Anything can happen at this point, but UCLA is the clear favorite of the two teams. The Bruins did better against common opponents and have a clear talent advantage. I predict that the Bruins prevail, 2-0.
Plus, UCLA needs a little payback from the Golden Gophers for 2018 baseball.
This is your UCLA women’s soccer versus Minnesota Golden Gophers NCAA second round open thread.