When UCLA women’s soccer took on Pepperdine, an unstoppable force met an immovable object.
The No. 1 Bruins (7-0-1) entered the game averaging more than three goals a game. Galvanized by the nation’s top recruiting class and junior forward Hailie Mace being deployed in her natural position leading the line, UCLA has been an attacking machine.
The Waves (4-2-2), however, waltzed into Drake Stadium having only allowed three goals in seven games.
After a physical battle, the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
During the first half, Pepperdine stifled UCLA’s star-studded offensive corps at every turn. Pepperdine sat back and took away the middle of the field, and UCLA’s efforts to force its way through were met with limited success.
When the Waves’ defense bent under the heavy pressure, their goalkeeper, junior Brielle Preece, stepped up and kept the game scoreless through halftime.
They also got a little help from the referees.
UCLA won a corner nearing halftime. The ball was sent into the box and rolled toward the goal, where freshman midfielder Viviana Villacorta poked it home only to see it disallowed for an offside, despite a defender and the goalkeeper standing on the goal line.
The Bruins charged out to start the second half and snatched the game’s first goal within a minute.
Redshirt sophomore midfielder Anika Rodriguez knocked down a lofted pass into the path of Villacorta, who waited until the defenders converged on her before slipping the ball to Mace for a simple first-time finish.
Pepperdine continued to absorb pressure, choosing to wait until a counterattack presented itself. One of those counters led to a shot that skimmed the top of the bar. Another led to a shot that narrowly missed the far post.
A third led to a goal.
Chaos in the box and a little luck resulted in the equalizer, as the ball fell to Pepperdine defender Jamie Van Horn and her shot squeezed through two players’ legs before making its way into the net.
After 90 minutes, the game went to overtime, when both teams had gilt-edged opportunities to win it in sudden death.
The best chance to finish the game came to Bruins’ sophomore midfielder Jessie Fleming. Mace zipped down the wing and rolled the ball to the top of the box, where the Canadian starlet was wide open. Fleming took a touch and let loose, and hit the ball wide.
Breece made a few more key stops on her way to a player-of-the-match performance and the game ended in a draw.
The immovable object did not give way to the unstoppable force.