After cruising to a 4-1 victory over Lamar last Friday night, the UCLA women’s soccer team (15-4-1) now welcomes the Clemson Tigers (11-6-2) to Wallis Annenberg Stadium tonight for the Bruins’ second round game in the NCAA postseason. Kickoff is at 8 pm PT.
The game will follow the 5 pm PT Duke versus #3 seeded Wisconsin contest, also at Wallis Annenberg Stadium, the winner of which will face the winner of UCLA v. Clemson in a Sunday round of 16 game, time to be announced.
Last Time Out
In their first round game in Westwood last Friday night, the Bruins took the initiative early with Jessie Fleming netting her third goal of the season at the end of the ninth minute with a well-placed left footed strike from outside of the box.
Delanie Sheehan and Maricarmen Reyes would extend UCLA’s lead to 3-0 at the half with the two scoring within six minutes of each other. Sheehan got on the board in the 32nd minute and Reyes tickled the twine in the 37th minute.
Freshman Kali Trevithick who missed almost all of the season due to injury, scored the Bruins’ final goal in the 75th minute. It was Trevithick’s first goal of her collegiate career. The Cardinals prevented the clean sheet with a goal in the 90th minute, resulting in the 4-1 scoreline.
The Bruins dominated Lamar statistically, out-shooting the Cardinals 33-6 (21-3 on goal). Lamar’s freshman ‘keeper Erin Branch made 17 saves to keep the game respectable for the Cardinals.
UCLA’s next opponent Clemson finished seventh in the ultra-competitive ACC, which saw its top three teams, North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida State, all receive number one seeds in the postseason. The Tigers were 5-5 in league play, dropping games to Florida State, North Carolina, Duke (no shame there), Louisville (no shame there either) and to a bad Miami team in double overtime on the road.
Clemson then lost to Florida State again in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals. Clemson’s two ties were at home versus Oregon, the second worst team in the Pac-12 who won only one conference game, and the Vandy game is technically scored a tie, even though Clemson advanced on penalties.
On offense, the Tigers have a very balanced attack with 14 players responsible for the 33 goals that Clemson has scored this season. Leading the team is junior forward Mariana Speckmaier, who has found the back of the net six times.
But the straw that stirs the drink for the Tigers is sophomore Renee Guion, who has twelve assists on the year to go with one goal, having a hand in over one third of Clemson’s tallies in 2019. Although Guion is listed as a defender, she is obviously instrumental in the Tigers’ attack. Keeping Guion from distributing will be the key for the UCLA back line.
Clemson has a pretty darn good defense, allowing only twenty goals in nineteen games this season. The Tigers only allowed more than one goal in a game four times this season.
Sandy McIver has played most of the season in goal for Clemson, playing in 16 of the Tigers’ 19 games, including all of the games down the stretch and the young postseason. McIver has 45 saves and four clean sheets on the season. Expect to see her in goal for the Tigers tonight.
Each round will now present a heightened challenge for the Bruins going forward, but UCLA has the horses to beat Clemson, and I expect them to do so in the friendly confines of Wallis Annenberg Stadium. The 8 pm PT start will not help the Tigers either, as it will be as if they are playing at 11 pm, ET.
I predict that UCLA prevails by the score of 2-0.