Good things come to those who wait. That’s the message that UCLA women’s soccer coach Amanda Cromwell got across to her team during halftime in the 2-0 win against Pepperdine.
“We were able to calm it down, stay patient, and not force it. And I think that was what helped open up the game even more,” said freshman midfielder Annie Alvarado about how Cromwell’s halftime talk enhanced the team’s play.
The Friday afternoon clash in Malibu between the No. 4 Bruins (8-1-0) and the Waves (5-3-1) began with back-and-forth action on both sides of the field. Neither team seemed to have secured a clear advantage until a carefully threaded pass from junior midfielder Sarah Killion in the 9th minute unleashed freshman forward Darian Jenkins onto the Waves’ goal, and Jenkins made sure her shot counted.
“It’s one of those goals that when you watch it, you really appreciate the game of soccer … it’s technically sound, it’s the timing of the run, and it’s tactically sound. So we’re very happy about that goal,” Cromwell said.
The Bruins entered the second half armed with Cromwell’s advice, and their tactical improvements paid off in the 57th minute.
A deft touch on a pass from junior midfielder Sam Mewis placed the ball ahead of an advancing Taylor Smith. The miscommunication between Pepperdine’s defender and goalkeeper over who would challenge UCLA’s sophomore forward resulted in the defender mistakenly clearing the ball into her own net, putting the Bruins up by two goals.
“We put their defender under so much pressure and that was all she could do, because Taylor’s going to score the goal anyway. So it’s not really an indication of their defense, it’s more about how good our attack was on that play,” Cromwell said.
Spurred by the home crowd, the Pepperdine players made attempts to reduce their two-goal deficit, but the Bruins maintained their dominance of the ball and made sure they’d earn their fifth shutout of the season.
The Bruins saw competition again on Sunday against the Loyola Marymount Lions at Sullivan Field.
UCLA took over the game early. Jenkins, Mewis, and sophomore forward Kodi Lavrusky all hit the scoreboard in the first half. But with 5 minutes left before the break, junior defender Abby Dahlkemper was judged to have committed a foul as the last defender and shown a straight red card.
“I thought it was 50-50, but I guess the ref. just ran up and gave me a red card,” Dahlkemper said.
The Lions’ main chance to score came from the ensuing penalty kick, but the attempt was foiled by junior goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, who made sure the Bruins finished the weekend with two shutouts.
“I was really upset about the call; Abby Dahlkemper didn’t deserve the red card. … I just tried to save it for my team; they were working really hard and I just tried to save it for them,” Rowland said.
UCLA begins conference play this weekend at Arizona, but the team will have to make some lineup adjustments as a result of the suspension that comes with receiving a red card.
“We’re going to have to put in a new center back, so we’ve got some things to do with personnel, but it’s the start of Pac-12 play, so we’re excited about that, and we feel good going forward,” Cromwell said.