Through her first three seasons of collegiate soccer, Zakiya Bywaters was not known as much of a goal scorer.
Despite starting 67 of her first 69 games, the senior midfielder/forward tallied just eight goals and 33 points.
But her relatively modest goal-scoring account has changed this year. Lately, opponents have struggled to keep her name off the scoring sheet.
In the UCLA’s first 13 games of the season, Bywaters has scored 11 goals and amassed 24 points.
“She’s so dynamic that she can pop in the midfield; she can play in the forward line,” coach B.J. Snow said. “She can beat you with the pass and she can beat you with the dribble and so, all of those things combined, it’s hard to game plan for her.”
Bywaters was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week as well as the UCLA/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week for her play two weekends ago against Arizona and Arizona State.
“I’m really growing as a player, really finishing my opportunities, so very pleased with where I’m at and I’m just continuing to look for more chances,” Bywaters said.
Both Bywaters and her coach gave credit to the Bruins’ multiple offensive weapons for contributing toward her success.
“We have different players that can create scoring opportunities. I think it’s hard for other teams to really try to defend us,”
Bywaters said. “We don’t just have one key player “¦ that can create scoring chances. We get our scoring chances from most of the front line.”
The wait is over
In the team’s last match against Oregon State, sophomore midfielder Sarah Killion did something that she has been waiting to do for over a year now, something that her coach said was “very well deserved.”
With a direct free kick that nestled its way into the upper left corner of the net, Killion notched her first career goal as a Bruin.
“It felt really good. I’ve been hoping to get one, well I hoped to get one last year obviously, but it (finally) came,” Killion said. “I’m just happy to get one in.”
Her performance over the weekend helped land her a spot on the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week.
Let’s go streaking
Dating back to last season, the Bruins have gone unbeaten in 21 straight regular season games.
Snow says that it is not important that his team is undefeated so far this year, because that is not the goal.
“The goals for our team at this point in time are to continue to try to get better. Each time that we step on the field, it gives us a picture of where we’re at currently in the season,” he said.
“We’re trying to evaluate our team (and) where we stand right now. Now we take that picture and use it for practice this week.”
Regardless of Snow’s desire for the team to continue getting better, the second-year coach has only one loss in his career at UCLA and his team keeps piling on the victories.