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UCLA Olympic Sport Roundup: Siri Saves the Bruins

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There were weekend sweeps for UCLA Women's Soccer, UCLA Men's Water Polo, and UCLA Women's Volleyball, but there was only disappointment for UCLA Men's Soccer.

@UCLAWSoccer

Women's Soccer

In my weekend previews, I noted that the Bruins needed wins from their matches with Colorado and Utah to keep alive their hopes for postseason play.

It wasn't easy for the Bruins, but they got the job done in Fridays game against the Buffaloes. The game was still scoreless at the halftime interval thanks to an acrobatic save by goalie Siri Ervik midway through the first frame.

UCLA got on the scoreboard first shortly after the restart. Amber Munerlyn collected the ball on the right wing, skipped past two defenders, and skimmed a left-footed shot under the 'keeper.

Kodi Lavrusky was inches away from doubling the UCLA lead when she ran onto a through ball and guided the ball past the on-rushing Buffs' goalkeeper but just wide of the post.

Shortly after the hour mark, Ervik came up big again to protect the Bruins' lead. When a Colorado attacker broke free on the left flank, Ervik quickly closed down the space and deflected the shot with a kick save, then instantly jumped to her feet to claw away a second shot. Brilliant goalkeeping!

Colorado kept attacking, though, and eventually scored the equalizer on a rebound from a corner kick. However, less than 15 seconds later, the Bruins were back in front for good. Midfielder Claire Winter was clipped in the box, and Annie Alvarado buried the penalty kick.

Ervik finished the game with a career-high six saves, and Munerlyn and Alvarado each scored their third goal of the season.

One game, one win, one more to go: Utah was up next.

If points were awarded for hitting the crossbar, the Bruins would have easily won their battle with the Utes. Despite dominating possession and creating far more chances than Utah, when the halftime whistle blew, the Bruins had nothing to show for their huge advantage in shots.

The second half looked much like the first until the 67th minute. Zoey Goralski curled a cross into the box from the right corner, and when the Utes failed to clear the danger immediately, Kodi Lavrusky muscled through the Utah defense to drill the ball past the 'keeper.

Lavrusky's fourth goal of the season was all the Bruins would need. Siri Ervik kept a clean sheet--her first career shutout.

The weekend sweep gives the fifth-place Bruins (8-7-1, 4-3-1) a bit of momentum as they head north this week to play third-place California (12-4-2, 5-3-0) and first-place Stanford (13-2-0, 7-0-0). UCLA probably needs at least one win this weekend to keep its postseason hopes alive.

Men's Water Polo

How good are Coach Adam Wright's Bruins? Apparently, good enough to defeat the #3 team in the nation despite a lethargic, nearly disastrous start to their match on Saturday.

The Golden Bears didn't waste any time getting on the scoreboard. Cal's first goal came courtesy of a 6-on-5 opportunity less than 30 seconds into the opening quarter. And before the Bruins could blink, Cal struck twice more on counterattacks. After just two minutes had elapsed, Cal had raced out to a three-goal lead.

At that point, UCLA seemed to finally realize that it had dug a substantial hole for itself through its early lethargy, and the intensity lifted. Nevertheless, the Bruins weren't able to strike back until there was less than a minute left in the quarter. Matt Farmer netted the Bruins' first goal on a power play, and as time expired in the opening frame, the Bruins trailed 3-1.

Cal and UCLA traded goals in the second quarter. The Bruins were playing better, but not well enough to close the gap. At halftime, Cal led the reigning national champions 5-3.

UCLA finally caught the Golden Bears in the third frame. Cal restored its three-goal cushion a minute into the quarter, but Max Irving pulled the Bruins back o within two 11 seconds later. Alex Roelse drew UCLA within one when he scored from a penalty shot, and after Cal countered with its third power play goal of the day, Matt Farmer and Patrick Fellner each netted goals to knot the score at 7-all at the close of the third.

Three minutes into the final period, Max Irving scored his second of the day to give the Bruins their first and only lead. The Bruins ratcheted up their defensive intensity in the fourth, and the Cal attack couldn't get anything past Garrett Danner. The result was an 8-7 victory, and perhaps a wake-up call about the danger of sleep-swimming through the opening minutes of a match.

Ryder Roberts, Max Irving, and Matt Farmer each scored a brace for the Bruins, and Garrett Danner registered 11 saves.

Less than 24 hours later, UCLA was back in the pool for a Sunday afternoon match against the seventh-ranked Anteaters. Thankfully the Bruins didn't repeat their slow start from the previous day.

UCLA scored early and often against UCI. Four minutes into the first quarter, the Bruins led 4-0, and by the end of the period the lead had grown to 7-2.

The Bruins kept building their lead in the second and third quarters while stifling the Anteater's offense. At the half, UCLA led 10-3, and at the end of the third, the Bruins were up 12-4.

Coach Wright rested some of his starters in the final frame, including All-American goalkeeper Danner. Danner collected 14 saves against the Anteaters, including a big stop on a penalty shot. He also added four steals and two assists. Freshman goalkeeper Alex Wolf finished off the game, with the Bruins earning a 15-8 victory.

Max Irving led all scorers with four goals. Patrick Fellner and Anthony Daboub each scored a hat track, and Ryder Roberts contributed a brace.

The #1 Bruins (21-0, 5-0) have now won an incredible 24-straight games. They'll return to action on Sunday when they meet fourth-ranked Pacific (19-2, 5-0). Do not underestimate Pacific! The Tigers pulled off a big upset of #2 USC over the weekend, winning 8-7 and handing the Trojans their first conference loss.

Women's Volleyball

The Bruins began their road trip in Eugene. Although Oregon is a "middle of the Pac" team, the Ducks can be a difficult opponent because they run a fast-paced offense with a lot of motion. Although the Bruins entered the match with a five-game winning streak and having turned in two strong performances last weekend, UCLA struggled against Oregon.

The Bruins trailed in every set, but managed to mount comebacks in three of them to claim a 3-1 victory. Set scores were 25-22, 19-25, 28-26, 29-27.

It's fair to say that the Bruins were not at their best against the Ducks, but good teams find a way to win even when they aren't at their best, and that's what UCLA did. Jordan Anderson produced another big game, registering a season-high 25 kills. Reily Buechler and Claire Felix added 11 and 9 kills, respectively.

Freshman Zana Muno earned a rare start at setter and tallied another double-double: 48 assists and 11 digs. As usual, Taylor Formico led the defense with a whopping 26 digs. Buechler chipped in with a dozen digs to give her a double-double as well.

On Sunday, UCLA had a surprisingly difficult time closing out the Beavers. The Bruins started the match comfortably, winning the first two sets 25-16 and 25-21. Then the wheels came off. UCLA hit .000 in the third set and lost 19-25. The Bruins hit .054 in the fourth set and lost 23-25. Tied at 2-all, the Bruins were on the verge of a horrible collapse.

Fortunately, UCLA's attack found its rhythm again in the final set, hitting .615 to leave the Beavers toothless. The Bruins closed out the match 15-5 in the final set to earn a hard-fought 3-2 win.

Consistent with the Bruins struggles, Jordan Anderson did not have a good game. Although she had a dozen kills, her hitting percentage was a measly .051. Fortunately, Reily Buechler stepped up with a career-high 21 kills, and middle blocker Jennie Frager added 10 kills to lead the UCLA offense.

Zana Muno, making her second straight start, dished out 52 assists and collected 24 digs--both career-bests. Once again, Taylor Formico led the Bruins in digs with 32. Defensive specialists Rachel Inouye and Karly Drolson each registered double-digit digs as well.

The weekend sweep kept the Bruins (17-3, 8-2) in a tie for second-place in the Pac-12, two games behind the Trojans and even with the Huskies. With two games in the state of Washington this weekend, the Bruins can try to take another step up the ladder in chasing USC.

Men's Soccer

Let me say from the outset that there is no more frustrating team to cover than Coach Salcedo's 2015 Bruins. No team is more prone to turn a win into a loss one day and then produce a big win the next day than this group of Bruins.

This past weekend was no exception. On Friday, UCLA played relatively well against #3 Stanford. All of the Bruin trademarks were on display: moments of ineptitude on defense, moments of brilliance in attack, resilience when playing from behind, and softness when protecting a lead.

It came as no surprise when the Bruins conceded the opening goal to the Cardinal. A hopeful cross into the box found the head of Foster Langsdorf and UCLA was a goal down. But 14 minutes later, Jose Hernandez launched a long ball behind the Stanford defense, and Abu Danladi out-raced three Cardinal defenders to knock the ball into the back of the net.

With the score tied at 1-1 after the halftime break, the Bruins broke the deadlock 20 minutes into the second half when Danladi collected another pass in transition and found Seyi Adekoya breaking down the right channel. Adekoya blasted the ball past the Stanford 'keeper to give UCLA the lead.

UCLA managed to hold the lead for all of four minutes. The Bruins were called for handling the ball in their own box, Stanford converted the spot kick, and the game was deadlocked again. Twenty more minutes of regulation time, and an additional 20 minutes of overtime didn't produce another goal. Although the Bruins outplayed and out-shot the Cardinal, they had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

It wasn't a terrible result for the Bruins, but as has too often been the case this season, it typified how the Bruins' superior talent has been cancelled out by sloppiness, disorganization, and lack of consistent focus and intensity.

Unfortunately, after playing 110 minutes of relatively good soccer on Friday, the Bruins reverted to their "Bad News Bruins" ways on Sunday against a weak Cal side that the Bruins had defeated 6-0 a week ago.

UCLA conceded the first goal of the game after three minutes. UCLA levelled the score before the 10-minute mark, though. From the top of the box, Jackson Yueill hit a drop shot over the Cal defense onto the foot of Jose Hernandez, and Hernandez slotted it home for the equalizer. And then the Bruins took the lead before halftime when Abu Danladi finished amid a crowd of defenders in front of goal.

Enjoying a 2-1 lead coming out of the halftime break and pressing to add more, the Bruins seemed to lose defensive focus momentarily and it proved very costly. Goalkeeper Juan Cervantes rushed out of goal to try to break up a threat, mis-timed his tackle, and earned a red card in the process. Cal converted the penalty kick to even the score at 2-all, and the Bruins were left to play a man down for the final 33 minutes of the game.

As bad as the Bruins are defensively with 11, they are worse with 10. For reasons that aren't clear to anyone I've spoken with, Coach Salcedo brought on freshman goalkeeper Cole Martinez in his collegiate debut to try to keep Cal from scoring again. It would be unfair to blame Martinez for Cal's next two goals, but the combination of a poorly organized defense and an inexperienced goalkeeper seems like a recipe for disaster.

Jose Hernandez eventually scored the Bruins' third goal from the penalty spot, but it was too little, too late, as UCLA found a way to lose a critically important match to Cal, 4-3.

The Bruins (7-7-1, 3-3-1) have a single game this week. They travel to Ohio to play #5 Akron on Sunday, and probably needing a minimum of two wins from their final three games to have any chance of playing in the NCAA tournament.

Mini Bites

Softball

It's Fall Ball time for UCLA Softball. The Bruins played their sole autumn home game on Saturday, beating Cal State Fullerton 2-1.

Men's Volleyball

The Bruins opened their preseason at the 2015 USC Fall Tournament. UCLA won three of its four matches, beating Cal State Northridge 2-0 (26-24, 25-20), USC 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 18-16) and Cal Baptist (25-22, 25-13) before losing to Concordia (19-25, 26-24, 10-15).

Beach Volleyball

The McNamara twins--Megan and Nicole--made their collegiate debut on Saturday at the Endless Summer Event in Huntington Beach and made it to the finals before losing to a pair from USC.

Swimming & Diving

The Bruins finished first at a three-way meet against UCSB and Oregon State on Saturday. Madison White and Caroline McTaggart each claimed a pair of wins in the competition.

This Week In UCLA Sports

Thursday, October 29

  • UCLA Women's Soccer vs. California in Berkeley, CA (3:30 PM PT)
Friday, October 30
  • UCLA Cross Country at the Pac-12 Championships in Colfax, WA (10:30 AM PT)
  • UCLA Women's Volleyball vs. Washington State in Pullman, WA (7:00 PM PT)
  • UCLA Men's Basketball vs. Cal State Los Angeles at Pauley Pavilion (7:30 PM PT)

Saturday, October 31

  • UCLA Football vs. Colorado at the Rose Bowl (12:00 PM PT)

Sunday, November 1

  • UCLA Men's Soccer vs. Akron in Akron, OH (10:00 AM PT)
  • UCLA Women's Volleyball vs. Washington in Seattle, WA (11:00 AM PT)
  • UCLA Men's Water Polo vs. Pacific at Spieker Aquatics Center (1:00 PM PT)
  • UCLA Women's Basketball vs. Vanguard in Los Angeles, CA (2:00 PM PT)
  • UCLA Women's Soccer vs. Stanford in Palo Alto (3:30 PM PT)
That's your UCLA Olympic sports roundup for the week. With plenty of action scheduled throughout the week, including a critical road trip for UCLA Men's Soccer, be sure to check Bruins Nation for previews, updates and final results.

Go BRUINS!