Goalkeepers are expected to be fearless.
They are the ones who throw themselves in the path of a determined forward charging toward the goal.
And with UCLA down 4-1 after a shaky first half against top-ranked Stanford, the Bruins desperately needed a goalie who was not going to let any more shots hit the back of the net.
So coach B.J. Snow sent Alana Munger to guard the goal line, giving the redshirt sophomore her first minutes as a Bruin.
“Yes! I was very excited to get my first minutes for UCLA,” Munger said after the game.
“I’m happy. I mean, as a team, we didn’t get what we wanted to get, so we’re going to work hard this week and go up to Washington State, do well, get a result, and we’re just going to make sure we put in the work.”
Putting in an inexperienced goalie at the half was a risky move for Snow, especially since any more Stanford goals would eliminate any chance UCLA had of winning.
But the decision paid off as Munger made several key saves throughout the half, and the Bruins tightened their backline to hold the Cardinal scoreless in the second 45 minutes.
“Part of the move was that we wanted to give Alana that same experience, of playing on the road against No. 1,” Snow said. “She came in, made a few saves, and things got better.”
Facing Stanford’s offensive prowess and getting little help from the Bruins’ disorganized defense, freshman goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland was put under considerable pressure.
The situation got the better of 17-year-old Rowland, who has been the Bruins’ regular starter at goal, and she struggled throughout the first half.
“It was also a tough situation for Katelyn,” said Snow on Rowland’s play.
“She should probably be a senior in high school. It’s so easy to lose sight of that. … All of a sudden she’s playing on the road against the No. 1 team in the country. She didn’t have her best performance in the first half.”
Anchored by an older Munger in net, a different Bruin defense took the field in the second half, holding the Cardinal to only four shots.
“In the second half, we really started to believe in each other, get the energy, and we are just taking the good out of it,” freshman defender Abby Dahlkemper said.
“The second half performance was awesome; we were the better team in the second half.”
Snow also saw a marked improvement from UCLA’s backline after the half, mostly because the team was able to calm down and control the ball better.
“The effort improved from our team defensively,” he said. “Obviously, (Munger) wasn’t put under the fire that Katelyn was in the first half.”
“So I think, for the most part, it’s a tale of two halves. It was back and forth 90 miles an hour in the first half, we settled things down and took it to them in the second half.”
Standing on the goal line for the first time as a Bruin, Munger had her first real perspective into her team’s mentality on the field.
And after Sunday’s timid performance against Stanford, she knows UCLA needs to be more assertive.
“We need to play,” she said. “We need to not play afraid, we need to come out and attack them. I think we came out a little scared almost. Next time we’re going to come out with some fire and just take it to them.”