After a humbling loss to No. 1 Stanford in front of a national audience, the UCLA women’s soccer team could have spent the whole week sulking.
It was its first loss of the season, which snapped a 25-game unbeaten streak of regular season games. In addition, the loss guaranteed Stanford the conference title for the fourth consecutive year.
But instead of moping, the Bruins did exactly the opposite. They’re using this experience as a gauge to measure where they want to be.
“Sunday, there were a lot of awesome takeaways, positive takeaways from our performance,” coach B.J. Snow said. “So that’s why we wanted to play that game, that’s why it was so great for us to get a picture of what we’re going to need to work on, what we need to explore, what we need to really emphasize going into the NCAA tournament.”
Before the NCAA tournament begins, however, the No. 2 Bruins (15-1-2, 8-1-1 Pac-12) have one more opponent they must face: crosstown rival USC (5-10-3, 2-6-2).
“They’re going to come out strong, we’re going to come out strong and we’ll see who comes out (on top),” sophomore goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland said.
With the Trojans owning the worst record in the Pac-12 Conference, the Bruins will have an opportunity to bounce back from their loss to the Cardinal and tune up for the NCAAs.
Snow said it would be a good tune-up match because USC is a great team, regardless of its record.
“(USC’s record) doesn’t matter; they are a well-coached team, highly disciplined, and they work their butts off for 90 minutes,” he said. “They’re an extremely tough team to break down and we expect their very best on Friday and that’s it.”
Senior midfielder/forward Zakiya Bywaters added that she was not concerned with USC’s record.
“It’s going to be a clean slate when both of us are on the pitch. I’m looking forward to an exciting game ““ it’s going to be very competitive,” Bywaters said.
UCLA gave up two goals in a game for the first time this season in its game against Stanford and was unable to convert on many of its chances in the box.
“(We have to) just make sure we’re getting chances again on the goal, and next time, just make sure we put our chances away,” Bywaters said.
Snow emphasized that getting the players organized, rested and healthy for Friday’s matchup would be the key to victory.
He also expressed his hope that the team can give him the full 90-minute performance that he’s been waiting to see from them all season.
“That’s what I’m going to ask of the (players) on Friday,” Snow said. “To come and compete for 90 minutes and do the things that we know we do well.”