After another 5-0 victory in the NCAA postseason tournament, the UCLA women’s soccer team (15-3-1) will now host the North Carolina State Wolfpack (11-6-4) in a third round match-up at Wallis Annenberg Stadium this evening. Kickoff is at 6:00 pm PT.
Both teams won at UCLA on Friday night, but in dramatically different fashion, earning the right to play in today’s game.
Last Time Out
On Friday night in the second round game, after a 36 minute delay of kickoff due the NC State vs. Santa Clara game (more on that game below), UCLA got on the scoreboard quickly against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, with Chloe Castaneda finding the back of the net in the 4th minute. The quick score put the Gophers on their heels and, then, somewhat reminiscent of the 5-0 victory over San Jose State in the first round game last week, the Bruins kept dominating play against Minnesota while finding the back of the net four more times, in the 28th, 35th, 70th, and 86th minutes. The goal in the 35th minute, which put UCLA up 3-0, was an exceptional header off the crossbar by senior leader, Hailie Mace.
When it was all said and done, five different players had scored for UCLA, and sophomore phenom Ashley Sanchez had set a new UCLA record with four assists in one game. Sanchez is tearing it up with 10 goals and 12 assists on the season.
The Bruins’ defense only allowed Minnesota four shots and only two on goal. April Brockin, Minnesota’s best threat and leading goal scorer with 13 on the year, was completely shut down by the UCLA defense and did not record a shot.
UCLA goalkeeper Teagan Micah was tested twice, recording two saves and earning a clean sheet, her seventh of the season.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack finished 11th in the 14-team ACC, posting a 3-5-2 record in conference. Then, they lost to a very good Virginia team in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
For some, it was surprising that a team like that would get an at-large bid to the postseason while, say, the Colorado Buffaloes did not. Nevertheless, in winning their first and second round games, NC State has proven that they belong. Indeed, the ACC has advanced seven teams to the round of 16 this postseason.
And, now, the Wolfpack find themselves in the ultimate underdog role. NC State has nothing to lose at this point and can knock out a UCLA team that has set its sights higher than the round of 16.
NC State was not favored in its last game against #3 seeded Santa Clara and things seemed bleak after the Broncos scored in the 61st minute. But in the 78th minute, the Wolfpack broke through and equalized, when Tziarra King fizzed a low shot inside the near post. The teams went scoreless through the rest of regulation and the overtime periods and then went to penalty kicks.
The teams made their first 9 combined penalty shots and NC State was leading, 5-4, with Santa Clara yet to shoot in the fifth round. Unfortunately for the Broncos, Courtney Ogren missed the goal frame, wide right, ending Santa Clara’s season and sending NC State into a frenzied celebration.
UCLA needs to stop NC State’s Tziarra King, who not only scored the big goal for the ‘Pack against Santa Clara, but also leads the team in goals with ten. The Bruins need to play her exactly the way they played Minnesota’s April Brockin.
NC State has played one goalkeeper all season, Sydney Wootten. The senior has a .99 goals against average, has seven clean sheets and has made 95 saves on the season. By comparison, Micah only made 39 saves this year. Wootten will be in net against the Bruins.
UCLA has won eleven straight games. Although NC State is a step up in competition, UCLA is still a level higher than the Wolfpack. NC State celebrated on Friday night. They should not be celebrating tonight. I predict that UCLA prevails in a tighter game by the score of 3-1.
This is you UCLA Bruins women’s soccer vs. North Carolina State open thread. Let us know your thoughts during and after the game.