Once again, 90 minutes wasn’t enough.
For its third straight match, UCLA women’s soccer went into double overtime. But unlike the tie and loss it suffered last week, No. 14 UCLA (10-3-1, 4-1-1 Pac-12) exited Tucson with a 2-1 victory over Arizona (6-7-1, 1-5).
“It was a really important (win),” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “We were frustrated after last weekend to not get a win – you always want those games.”
It didn’t take long for UCLA to take control of the game against the physical Arizona defense.
Less than seven minutes in, senior midfielder Annie Alvarado teed up a long lob pass from midfield into the Wildcats’ penalty box. The ball bounced off the ground, ricocheted off freshman midfielder Jessie Fleming’s right foot and rolled toward the opposing goal.
Redshirt freshman midfielder Anika Rodriguez saw the loose ball, beat a lone Arizona defender and flicked it with her left foot past Wildcat goalie Lainey Burdett.
With the 1-0 lead, the Bruins played a more conservative game the rest of the first half, passing cautiously and keeping possession of the ball. Arizona had just one shot after 45 minutes of play, and struggled to jump start its offense without any promising opportunities.
“The first half was really good for us in terms of possession and being creative,” Cromwell said. “We had to be really mindful about finishing our chances. We’ve been working on finishing and fine-tuning that final path.”
But that wasn’t the case once the second half began.
The Wildcats found their rhythm on offense, opening up avenues in the middle of the field, but the Bruins’ back line remained sturdy. Arizona resorted to deep shots to try and get on the board.
In the 66th minute, three UCLA players hovered around Wildcats midfielder Kelcey Cavarra as she dribbled the ball down the field. With some breathing room, Cavarra launched a moonshot that curved just over leaping freshman goalie Teagan Micah to equal the score.
“It was almost like we just lost our competitive edge,” Cromwell said. “We stopped fighting as hard and competing as hard and let the other team get momentum, letting them get that goal. … We put ourselves in a rough spot there.”
The Bruins looked for a quick response, journeying down the field multiple times. Fleming had an opportunity in the 69th minute when she had a point-blank shot in the box, but Burdett dove to the right to deny UCLA’s leading scorer. Two minutes later, Rodriguez had a free kick about 20 yards out but blasted her shot straight into a wall of Arizona defenders.
Neither team could claim the game-winning goal in the final 19 minutes of regulation nor the first overtime period, despite numerous corner kicks and scrambles in each penalty box.
Then, one minute and 14 seconds into the second overtime period, sophomore defender Hailie Mace made the decisive run. Mace dribbled past multiple Arizona defenders to the left of the box, then crossed it with her left foot. On the end of her low cross was freshman forward Sunny Dunphy, who notched her first goal of the year with a left-footed finish.
Players crowded the two underclassmen, celebrating the goal that clinched the much-needed victory and preserved the Bruins’ undefeated road record.
“Hailie did a good job of taking on forward,” Cromwell said. “We talked to her about continuing to do that because she’s so dangerous on the dribble coming forward.”