The last time the women’s soccer team saw the Cardinal red in late October, the Bruins dropped their first match all season, bringing an end to their 25-game unbeaten streak.
Fast-forward to now and third-seeded UCLA is in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, where it will play top-seeded Stanford.
The Bruins will travel to the Cardinal’s house for Friday’s matchup with an opportunity to knock out the defending champions on their own turf.
“Certainly (Stanford) won the national championship last year and they’ve been the gold standard across the country over the last couple of years, but our goal isn’t to stop them from winning the national championship,” coach B.J. Snow said.
“Our goal is to put a solid performance in and put ourselves in the best position to win on Friday.”
The players are excited about the chance to have another shot at their rival.
“We’re sick of losing to them. … It’s the best set up that we (could) want,” said senior defender Lucretia Lee.
“We want to beat them in front of their fans at their home field.”
In their previous matchup, Stanford scored two goals, the first time that more than one goal had gotten past sophomore goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland this season.
The defense has been better lately and was dominant this weekend as the team posted two shutout victories.
UCLA will need to continue its high level of play in the backfield to beat Stanford.
“Keeping a clean sheet was an important part of the process in the NCAA tournament, because it just shows that we had the defensive mentality that we needed to compete,” Snow said.
Communication and energy will be important for the backline to be composed and play together as a team, Lee added.
Freshman forward Taylor Smith was the only Bruin to net a goal in the loss to Stanford, but she expects the offense to be better this time.
“Last time, I thought it was a really good game,” Smith said. “I just think our mentality this time will actually help us even more, because the soccer part is already there.”
Snow points out that their familiarity with Stanford will only help them if they work on and improve in the areas that they did and did not do well in that October match.
“Stanford’s a different team than they were a month ago and we’re certainly a different team than we were a month ago,” Snow said. “Our focus is just continuing to get better this week and concentrating on being in the right mind”“set going into Friday to really execute the game plan.”