Senior forward Zakiya Bywaters doesn’t buy into the idea of home field advantage, and the rest of her team doesn’t appear to either.
UCLA won two games in San Diego this weekend, pushing itself ahead into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
“We play better when we’re on the road,” Bywaters said. “We’re not surrounded by other distractions; we’re just there mentally and physically.”
UCLA has been extremely successful on the road this year ““ it has won almost every away game this season, losing once and tying twice at home.
Not only did the team manage to win both games this weekend, but they did so as powerfully as possible ““ a 5-0 win over Kentucky on Friday and a 3-0 win over San Diego State on Sunday.
With such significant margins of victory, coach B.J. Snow was proud to see his team continue powering though the games instead of relying on the goals it had already scored.
“We concentrate on performance, and I was happy with this, with how they performed,” Snow said. “It was great energy all weekend long that allowed them to compete. We never allowed (SDSU) a chance to breathe.”
Even though UCLA’s championship run ended last year against University of San Diego, the city does not appear to bear any sort of curse for the Bruins. They not only beat SDSU on Sunday, but did it in San Diego.
“I think we’ve grown and matured a lot as a team. We’re mentally and physically prepared and really, we’re just fighting for each other,” Bywaters said.
While the offensive numbers ““ eight goals in two games ““ might catch the eye immediately, the zeroes on the other side of the scoreboard were notable as well.
Sophomore Katelyn Rowland, a mainstay in the goal this year who rarely lets a goal pass her by, was not caught up in the tournament hype, recording two shutouts.
But she didn’t take the credit, noting the exceptional efforts of her defenders.
“My defense did it all this weekend, and without them these wins would not have been possible,” Rowland said.
While UCLA’s coach has only seen his team through three regular season losses in two years, while he watches them go into the Elite Eight, while they continue to power through the postseason, he strays away from taking any credit for their success.
“We don’t get caught up in all that; my job is just getting out of the way and letting them do their thing,” Snow said.
“I’m just along for the ride.”
Email Coghlan at firstname.lastname@example.org