The UCLA women’s soccer team (5-1-1) opens conference play tonight at home at Wallis Annenberg Stadium, welcoming the undefeated and untied Washington State Cougars (7-0-0) to Westwood. Kickoff is at 8 pm PT and the game will be broadcast on and streamed live by the Pac-12 Networks.
Last year, when the two teams met in Pullman, the Cougars surprisingly got the better of the Bruins, prevailing 1-0. Wazzou struck quickly off a corner kick in the 4th minute. UCLA was unable to clear a ball bouncing around inside the six and in the face of goal, and WSU’s Maegan O’Neill touched home the winner in a scrum. It wasn’t pretty, but it counted and it held up for the remainder of the game.
After beating UCLA last year, the Cougars made a surprising run in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the Round of 16 before falling in double overtime to Florida in Gainesville, 1-0. 2017 was a program-defining season for the Cougars’ squad.
WSU hasn’t let up this season, as nine starters returned from last year’s team, along with a staggering 93% of their scoring punch. The result has been as good as one can ask: seven games, seven wins. They have outscored their opponents 18-4.
O’Neill (the hero last year) is back, but Washington State has gotten the bulk of its scoring from junior forward Morgan Weaver, who has potted five goals in seven games. Senior Maddy Haro has been the engine behind the Wazzou machine, however, assisting on eight of WSU’s 18 goals on the season.
Ella Dederick, who has played goalkeeper most of the year for the Cougs, has three clean sheets in five starts. Dederick, however, took a knock three games ago and has not played in WSU’s last two games. Instead, redshirt junior Rachel Thompson has filled in admirably, winning both games (but no clean sheets).
After limping back from Florida after a tough end to the brutal East Coast road trip, the Bruins have played excellent soccer, beating Pepperdine at home and Loyola Marymount and San Diego State on the road. UCLA prevailed 3-0 in each of the three games.
Sophomore defender Karina Rodriguez, who has contributed to the two most recent clean sheets, earned the honor of Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.
The competition now ramps up considerably versus Washington State, but UCLA has already played tough teams, and they have done so on the road. WSU’s road victories have not come against minnows, however, as the Cougars have beaten both Minnesota and Nebraska on the road.
This is a really tough game to call. But I gotta go with the Bruins at home, by the score of 2-1. Wazzou scores one on a counterattack (another Haro assist), but the Bruins grind two into the Cougs’ net for the win.
This is your UCLA Women’s Soccer versus Washington State open thread. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.