The Cougars tried to bring the bite, but the Bruins didn’t flinch.
Washington State’s on-ball pressure and physicality disrupted UCLA’s offensive tempo, culminating in a game-tying tally from Cougar forward Alysha Overland in the 77th minute.
But 41 seconds later, senior midfielder Gabbi Miranda rifled the go-ahead goal, a left-footed dagger into the top left corner of the goal.
From there, No. 12 UCLA women’s soccer (12-3-1, 6-1-1 Pac-12) held on for a 2-1 win over unranked Washington State (6-9-1, 1-7-0) in a game that saw both teams combine for 21 fouls and six yellow cards.
“They were a little bit more dirty with it, coming in late,” said redshirt senior forward Courtney Proctor. “I think the referee did a better job in the second half getting ahold of the fouls, but it was just too late, he should’ve been on it in the beginning of the game.”
Despite the physical play, the Bruins maintained their pregame goal of making the extra pass to create scoring chances. Miranda’s goal was a product of a give-and-go with fellow senior midfielder Annie Alvarado.
“Before the game, (coach Amanda Cromwell) had been telling us to just play that one more pass,” Miranda said. “So in my head I was thinking, ‘I’m gonna do one more pass to Annie,’ thinking that she would take it end line, but then she played it right back. I was like ‘OK, that’s your one more pass,’ so I just played it over to my left and decided to shoot.”
Only one pass was necessary on Proctor’s game-opening goal in the 18th minute. Freshman goalkeeper Teagan Micah sent a long pass to the forward, who dribbled past the defense and banked in a shot off the left post.
After the Cougars tied the match, however, the Bruins changed gears. The key for UCLA in this game – and the season as a whole – was resiliency.
For the sixth time this season, the Bruins allowed a game-tying or go-ahead goal in the second half but answered back afterward.
“When a team’s physical – they’re grabbing and they’re trying to prevent us from doing our thing on the attack – it’s hard sometimes because you get out of your rhythm,” Cromwell said. “But we didn’t panic, we went back down less than a minute later and got the game-winner.”
As for why UCLA occasionally struggles coming out of halftime, Miranda thinks it’s related to the team’s fast starts.
“I think that sometimes our mentality kind of lacks because we’ll have a great first half and we’ll be really confident in what we’re doing,” Miranda said. “Then we’ll come in feeling a little soft, so we definitely need to change that in the second half. I think the best thing we can do is if we get a goal scored on us, we just have to focus on getting that goal right back in the next five minutes.”
On Sunday, at least, it only took Miranda 41 seconds.