The legs of the UCLA women’s soccer team (12-1-3, 5-1-2 Pac-12) have been getting plenty of work this season, as they’ve pushed 300 shot attempts toward the net. The back of the net, on the other hand, has been sitting still for most of the season.
This weekend, though, the net finally got in on the action, with the Bruins blasting eight goals in two games. That amount doubles the total goals scored in conference play so far and is more than a quarter of UCLA’s total goals this season.
“We were just coming off two rough weeks, so we knew in the back of our minds we had to make a statement,” sophomore midfielder Chelsea Stewart said. “We’d been practicing on finishing throughout the whole week, and practice led to execution in the game.”
With only three games left in the regular season, the Bruins need to be rounding into form and preparing for the tournament, in which UCLA will almost certainly be a high seed. Because finishing has been a consistent struggle for the Bruins, finishing has been a consistent focus during practice. The results from the weekend indicate that maybe the squad’s work has been paying off.
“I thought the goals we scored this weekend were pretty solid goals,” coach B.J. Snow said. “Especially on Friday, we scored some really world-class goals. A lot of that was just increasing our efficiency in what we’re manufacturing inside the final third. … It’s certainly not where we need it to be, but it was a giant step forward for us, especially for our confidence, just to see the ball hit the back of the net.”
Home Field Advantage
Being the home team has clearly favored UCLA this season. The Bruins own an 8-0-0 record on their home pitch, as opposed to a 3-1-3 road record. Particularly during the conference season, this team has struggled to get the results it desires on the road, having posted a 0-1-2 conference road record.
Snow insists that this is not a concern for the team.
“Again, looking back on our performances and Cal, Stanford and Washington State, there are more positives to take away from it than negatives,” Snow said. “If it was a situation that we went in to those three games, or the rest of our games on the road, and we just weren’t performing at the level we want to perform, then certainly that would be something to look into, but it’s not. Our performances were good, our effort was good, the quality of performance from individuals was good.”
Perhaps more important, then, is the significant advantage gained by playing at home, where the Bruins have looked dominant.
“With the tournament coming close, we’re just trying to keep going with the wins. We want to get the home games when it comes to the tournament,” junior midfielder Zakiya Bywaters said. “You don’t want to travel, you want to stay home. We have our fans here, and it’s really good to play in front of our fans and family and friends.”