The UCLA Women’s Soccer team faces as tough a stretch in the next three games as any women’s soccer team in the country this year, as the Bruins start a three game, two week east coast road trip today against the #3 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions.
Kickoff is at 1 p.m. PT and the game will televised live to a national audience on ESPNU. John Yardley will be handling the play-by-play and Cat Whitehill will give insight and analysis.
Penn State has won its first two games, both at home, 1-0 against #9 West Virginia and 6-0 against Duquesne.
No one player has dominated the scoring, as six different women have scored Penn State’s seven goals. The woman with the two goals is sophomore Frankie Tagliaferri.
And those Nittany Lions who have not scored are also dangerous players. UCLA will need to pay particular attention to midfielders Emily Ogle and Charlotte Williams, who have not yet scored on the season and will be hungry to do so. Kristen Schnurr, a senior forward, who has two assists, will also be looking to open her account on the season.
Junior Amanda Dennis will start in goal for Penn State. She has seven saves so far through two games.
Penn State is always very good and this year is no different with the Nittany Lions returning sixteen players from a team that made it to the final eight in the NCAA postseason in 2017, eight of whom were also on the 2015 national championship squad.
UCLA, on the other hand, is coming off a spectacular finish but, overall, an underwhelming performance, in the 1-0 win against Long Beach State last weekend. Hailie Mace scored the game winner on an all-out hustle play with :02 left remaining in regulation, lifting UCLA to the dramatic 1-0 win.
It was an unexpected way—even the TV broadcasters were taking about overtime and discussing the overtime format like it was a foregone conclusion—to christen Wallis Annenberg Stadium.
Despite winning, the Bruins had to rely on a couple of excellent Teagan Micah saves to even keep the game at 0-0, as LBSU bunkered down and was dangerous on the counterattack. A higher quality opponent—like Penn State—might bury those chances.
By and large, the Bruins could not break down the Beach in the final third, despite a considerable advantage in possession and the game being played almost exclusively in the LBSU half of the field.
As a result of her game winner, Mace was named PAC 12 Offensive Player of the Week.
UCLA will face a different, stiffer challenge against Penn State. The Nittany Lions will not bunker down. They will be aggressive and will try to score first because it works for them. Since 2012, Penn State is 97-3-5 when scoring first.
It should be a great, College Cup-type, game, with the clear home field advantage to Penn State. Although I think that there will be ups and downs on this three-game road trip (the next two games are at Florida and at Florida State), I think that UCLA will grind out a positive result this afternoon, maybe not a win, though.
I predict a 1-1 draw.