A disappointing postseason finish. A new head coach. The departure of two key seniors. A recruiting class considered by many to be the best in the nation.
When the UCLA women’s team takes the field this fall, it is anyone’s guess which way its season will turn out.
With the arrival of three top-10 national recruits, including No.1 ranked Samantha Mewis, the Bruins possess the technical skill to make a run deep into the NCAA Tournament.
However, whether UCLA can replace the leadership it lost in departing players Lauren Barnes and Kylie Wright may decide how successful the Bruins are this season.
A successful return from injury for sophomore midfielder Jenna Richmond, who tore her ACL against BYU in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, will be key for the team. As a rising sophomore, Richmond will be expected to demonstrate more leadership on the field and will be crucial in coordinating the team’s offense.
Increased playtime from rising senior forward Sydney Leroux, who missed several games when she was called up to play for the national team last season, will be an important factor as to whether the Bruins can create consistent scoring opportunities.
Establishing a dominant backline without the presence of Barnes is another challenge that UCLA will face next year. If the incoming freshmen can step up and fill the gaps in the defense, the Bruins will be a difficult team to score on.
The big question is coach B.J. Snow, who will replace Jillian Ellis. Ellis, who was head coach for 12 seasons, is the new development director for the Youth Women’s National Team for U.S. soccer. Snow was the assistant coach under Ellis since 2009.
Compiled by Mansi Sheth, Bruin Sports senior staff.