With two wins, it’s hard to see how the on-field result wasn’t the most important one for UCLA women’s soccer this past roadtrip.
But with a five-day roadtrip, the bonding the team did in between their two games was what improved them as a whole, not just the wins they added to their record.
After a Friday night win over Arizona and a 4-1 win over Arizona State on Monday, UCLA improved to 9-0-2. The weekend was marked by a noted improvement not just in their game but in the team’s closeness.
“It was the first time we’ve gotten away and just been together,” coach B.J. Snow said. “It’s important with a young team. … It takes time to invest into those relationships that are the most important.”
From bowling to dinners, the team had an opportunity to come even closer. For the team’s younger players, such as freshman forward Taylor Smith, it was especially important.
“It really helped us recognize our personalities,” Smith said. “We went bowling and it was really fun, we got to really build those strong relationships.”
The bonding efforts culminated in a win for the No. 3 Bruins, who won off four goals from four players.
“I like this team because I’m not sure who it’s going to be each game, that’s a strength of our team,” Snow said.
Snow said that, in the game, he saw some of the best soccer his team has played in 2012 ““ high praise for a team that has been ranked in the top five for the past six weeks, and has stayed in the top seven all season long.
While the game at ASU was an overall success, there was one moment of discomfort for UCLA as sophomore forward Kylie McCarthy went down for several minutes when she took a knee to the abdomen.
“We’re still trying to evaluate. … We don’t know exactly what’s going on, we’ll keep an eye on it,” said Snow of McCarthy’s injury.
This weekend marked the first in a four week span of road trips for the blue and gold. After a solid month of playing at home, it looked as though it might be a tough transition for the team, especially after they closed out the weeks of home play with a tie.
However, with two solid wins over Pac-12 opponents, the Bruins are feeling confident about their road legs.
“This trip was a big success,” Smith said. “We grew as a team on and off the field, overall it was just really good.”
Their off the field bonding was bookended by two Pac-12 wins, putting the Bruins up to 2-0-1 in conference play.
The extra day of roadtrip not only allowed UCLA to rest a little more in between games but also gave them time to come together.
In her fourth year with the program, forward Zakiya Bywaters said that this team is the closest one she has been on in her time at UCLA.
“I think this year we’ve been closer as a team, which has played a big part in our success,” Bywaters said. “I think it’s important that we don’t just play together but we really get to know each other off the field.”