The No. 2 UCLA women’s soccer team is riding high heading into the first season of the Pac-12 conference. The Bruins closed the nonconference schedule on Sunday, winning 3-1 against a strong LMU side. The team’s large complement of true freshmen continues to deliver for UCLA, with two freshmen putting in 3 goals total and putting to rest concerns about age or inexperience.
The team finished without a nonconference loss in the regular season, their record sitting at a sparkling 7-0-1. The last time the UCLA team completed that feat was in 2008, when the Bruins’ only loss was to North Carolina in the College Cup final four.
“Obviously, as far our record standpoint is concerned, I’m certainly pleased,” coach B.J. Snow said Wednesday morning before practice. “I’m not really focused on that right now, it’s more about where our progress is and continually taking steps forward. As far as that’s concerned, I think we’re in a pretty good place.”
The team’s progress has been evident on the field and in the rankings, as the Bruins have rocketed from a No. 16 preseason ranking to a No. 2 ranking as the team prepares for the conference schedule. While not a shocking place for UCLA soccer to be, for the team to be ranked so highly in Snow’s debut season certainly exceeds expectations.
Team Expectations Unchanged
An undefeated start to the season might lead some to raise their expectations, but for the Bruins, the expectations are where they always have been: a national championship.
“No matter what, UCLA is always going to have these expectations,” senior forward Sydney Leroux said. “For me, it’s my senior year, and I want to go out with a bang. … I want to come out number one.”
Still, just as meaningful as the success UCLA has had so far is how they have been succeeding. The Bruins have been dominating in all phases of the game, with UCLA outshooting opponents (20 shots per game to 7.5 shots per game), getting more corner kicks (43 to 20), and outscoring (2.00 goals per game to 0.50 goals per game).
“We know we’re doing well against good teams, so of course it’s going to boost our confidence going into Pac-12,” junior defender Lucretia Lee said. “As we go, we want to improve, so we’re raising the bar each and every week.”
The lineup for the Bruins has been fluid so far in the early season, with most players seeing significant minutes. Twenty-one players have played in 7 games or more so far for the Bruins, and the starting lineup changes from week to week.
“We’ve got a lot of really quality players. Practices are competitive, and the girls that compete and earn spots during the week are the ones that are going to play Friday,” Snow said.
No major injury news for the Bruins. Snow said the Bruins were working on getting everyone healthy, but nobody was suffering from anything more than the bumps and bruises that accompany a rigorous nonconference schedule.