The game against Washington State had ended, but it was more than a win that gave reason for celebration.
With all of her players grouped together for a picture, coach Jillian Ellis ditched the clipboard for a digital camera and snapped away.
It was Senior Day at Drake Stadium on Sunday for the UCLA women’s soccer team, which meant it was the last regular-season home game for eight members of the team.
For Ellis, it was a touching, bittersweet moment, having coached her seniors for perhaps the very last time this year on the familiar field of Drake.
“They’ve just been an exceptional group of young ladies,” Ellis said of her seniors. “I thanked them for everything that they’ve done and how they represented us. I said to them, “˜If (my daughter) grows up like any one of you, I’ll be extremely proud.’
“It was a sad, emotional day. We want to extend the season for them, but (Sunday) was definitely about playing for them.”
Senior defender Lauren Barnes, who scored Sunday’s game-winner in the Bruins’ 2-0 win over Washington State, and senior midfielder Kylie Wright have played all four seasons as regular starters, making Sunday a cherished afternoon.
“It would take hours to recap (my four years playing as a Bruin),” Barnes said. “It’s been the most amazing experience in my life. I’ve made best friends who will be my friends forever.”
“I couldn’t have asked for a better class,” Wright added. “All of us are so extremely close; this class has just absolutely been phenomenal to play with. I know that all of these girls will be my bridesmaids.”
The senior who perhaps made the biggest improvement this season has been midfielder Dana Wall, also a Daily Bruin photographer.
After coming off the bench for her three previous years, Wall spent the past summer working on her game, making enough strides to earn herself a starting position in the midfield this season.
“I had kind of a down year last year, so then in the offseason this summer, I just really committed to working on everything I possibly could and being as prepared as I could, and it showed,” Wall said. “I was always contributing, but it’s more fun having a little bit more responsibility, being a starter and being a senior leader.”
Immediately after the starting lineups for both teams were announced on Sunday, three UCLA players lent their voices to an already festive atmosphere.
Senior midfielder Elise Britt, redshirt junior goalkeeper Chante’ Sandiford and Wall came together at midfield for a rendition of the national anthem, just before the start of the match.
While Sandiford was no stranger to singing in front of a crowd ““ she gave a similar performance in a home game last season, albeit solo ““ it was a first for Britt and Wall.
“It started off as kind of a joke because Chante’ had done it before, and (Elise and I) were like, “˜Yeah, we should do it; that would be really fun,’” Wall said. “I was pretty nervous, but the only reason that I wasn’t as nervous was because it was the three of us. If I had been doing it by myself, it would have been really scary.”