UCLA women’s soccer has primarily lined up in a traditional 4-3-3 so far this season. Against Oregon State, however, the team played the full 90 minutes in a 3-5-2.
The different formation freed up the attackers in the first half for the No. 1 Bruins (10-0-1, 3-0-0 Pac-12) and the Beavers (3-6-2, 0-3-0) couldn’t relieve the pressure on them. UCLA’s forwards found themselves open in the box time and again, and finished three en route to a 4-1 victory.
“We played the 3-5-2,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “We needed to get players in different spots to see if they could fill certain roles for us in different formations. We need to have options and know our options.”
The Bruins wasted no time putting the ball in the net.
Less than two minutes in, redshirt sophomore forward Anika Rodriguez sent a long diagonal into the box, which eluded everyone in it. The ball found senior wing-back Gabby Matulich near the line, who slid a pass across the face of the goal for junior forward Hailie Mace to tap in.
UCLA continued to throw numbers forward in the attack-heavy 3-5-2 and doubled the lead five minutes later.
Ashley Sanchez received the ball and dribbled into the middle of the field. The freshman forward skipped through the defense and got into a solid shooting position, but slipped it to Mace for a simple finish.
“Oregon State wasn’t ready for a two front,” Cromwell said. “Scoring two goals in the first ten minutes is a great thing.”
Nearing halftime, the Bruins got their third. Mace broke free after a defensive miscue and could have gone for the hat trick. Instead, she set up Sanchez who slotted the ball into the low corner.
The rout was on.
Only five of UCLA’s consistent starters returned for the second half, while the rest saw more minutes than they had all season. The chemistry was lacking and the attacking threat for the Bruins was largely minimized.
“The level of play definitely dropped a little bit,” Sanchez said.
After back and forth play for nearly 30 minutes, Oregon State won a consolation goal.
Matulich restored the three-goal advantage with four seconds left, completing a comfortable victory.
“it’s nice to see – in the future – we can play different formations,” Matulich said. “It’s a completely different way of attacking and defending, but it worked out.”
Cromwell noted the Bruins’ second half struggles, but felt that they accomplished their game plan.
“I was disappointed in the goal scored against us,” Cromwell said. “I’d have a much better feeling about the second half if that hadn’t happened, but I can’t equate my feelings towards one goal. We got what we wanted out of today.”