The Bruins may have fallen out of the No. 1 slot, but they still have yet to fall to an opponent.
No. 2 UCLA women’s soccer (11-0-2, 4-0-1 Pac-12) will look to remain unbeaten this week as it hosts Utah (5-6-2, 0-4-1) on Thursday for its annual Breast Cancer Awareness match.
Stanford claimed the top slot in the United Soccer Coaches national rankings after UCLA finished its match against Arizona in a 2-2 draw Sunday. The Bruins had previously been No. 1 for six straight weeks.
“(Arizona) was a feisty competitor, they put in everything,” said sophomore goalkeeper Teagan Micah. “We’re just going to learn from it and move on. Any team in the Pac-12 can give you a good run for your money and we saw that over the weekend.”
The Utes haven’t scored a goal in their last five games and are in the midst of a four-game losing streak. Forward Hailey Skolmoski leads Utah with seven goals on the season.
“Those four games, they could probably have won all of them, too. … Sometimes in our league a team gets an early goal and it’s hard to come back,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “But they have a lot of quality pieces. They defend really well and they’re dangerous on the attack, so just like any team in this league, they can beat anyone.”
Cromwell said the team has been working on being more aware of its defensive responsibilities, especially in one-on-one scenarios.
“You just have to be smarter about it and more patient in defending,” Cromwell said. “But the other thing is being a lot more mindful about passes and not giving them away cheaply.”
Redshirt senior defender Claire Winter said the team is making an effort to score on corner kicks and free kicks, something UCLA has had a tough time doing.
“We’ve been really focusing on nailing our set pieces because we haven’t really been consistent on them,” Winter said. “Coming off the tie with Arizona, we definitely know that we need to get a win. That’s kind of been at the back of everyone’s mind.”
Top Drawer Soccer’s Top 100 midseason list recognized nine Bruins up until this week. Sophomore midfielder Jessie Fleming claimed the top overall spot after previously having been ranked fourth in the preseason.
Junior forward Hailie Mace came in at No. 8 after having previously been unranked in the preseason, and sophomore defender Kaiya McCullough and redshirt sophomore Anika Rodriguez were named No. 61 and 89 respectively.
“It’s an incredibly special group of girls – there is so much talent,” Winter said. “We have so much depth on our bench that anyone that goes in can fill that position … everyone just works with each other and has confidence in each other to do their roles.”
Five of UCLA’s freshmen received midseason freshman honors, with forward Ashley Sanchez at No. 2, midfielder Delanie Sheehan at No. 4 and defender Karina Rodriguez at No. 10 listed in the top 10.
Micah said the team focuses on treating each game like a championship game before they step onto the field.
“It’ll be exciting to see what everyone brings to the table on Thursday because I know (the tie against Arizona) has just made us more hungry,” Micah said.