After spending 14 seasons in the American Athletic Conference, formerly known as the Big East, with the University of Central Florida, UCLA women’s soccer coach Amanda Cromwell will have to face a new challenge this weekend: taking on the
“It’s different for sure because even on the East Coast we play SEC and ACC; we didn’t play a lot of Pac-12 teams. So it’s fun having new competition, new cities you’re visiting and all those things, so we’re excited for that to begin,” Cromwell said about her first foray into Pac-12 competition.
The Bruins concluded a tough non-conference schedule that included high-ranked opponents like No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 1 North Carolina. But the team responded well, despite the loss to defending NCAA champions North Carolina, and begins conference competition Sunday at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium against the University of Arizona Wildcats (5-1-3) with an 8-1-0 record.
“I think our team has grown a lot during preseason, and we’re really excited for Pac-12. … We’re playing well, but we will have a lot to work on, so we’re excited for the future,” said junior defender Caprice Dydasco.
The Bruins ended the non-conference schedule last weekend by clinching 2-0 and 3-0 wins over Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount University. A large factor in those victories came from the Bruins’ dominance of possession and shots taken.
According to junior midfielder Samantha Mewis, the team looks to continue its positive play by controlling the midfield and being dominant on offense against the Wildcats.
“It’s important that we continue to be strong in the midfield and offense. … We have to score goals to win and I think everyone’s been doing a good job performing and doing what we’re told to in practice,” said junior midfielder Samantha Mewis, who took the most shots in last weekend’s games.
However, UCLA will have to deal with the setback of losing starting center back Abby Dahlkemper, as the junior defender will be serving a suspension as a result of receiving a red card in last Sunday’s game against Loyola Marymount University.
But Cromwell expressed confidence in her team’s ability to fill the void at the center back position.
“We’re deep; we don’t want those things to happen, but if they do, we have the players that can step in and fulfill the role, so we’re sad to be missing Abby for that game,” Cromwell said. “She’s an important part of our defense … but we have players that can step in.”