The Bruins left the Sunshine State empty handed.
No. 2 UCLA women’s soccer (2-1-1) drew with No. 22 Florida (2-3-1) 0-0 on Friday night in Gainesville, Florida, before traveling to Tallahassee, Florida, where they fell 4-1 to No. 4 Florida State (5-0-1) on Sunday.
UCLA vs. Florida
Neither team could find chances in the final third in the first half, with two total shots between the two opponents. The Bruins recorded no shots in the first half versus the Gators’ two.
Coach Amanda Cromwell said UCLA lacked clinical finishing of opportunities it created through possession.
“We just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities on Friday to win the game, and I know we should have gotten a win instead of a tie,” Cromwell said. “So leaving with a tie and a loss is disappointing.”
The Gators challenged the Bruins on the counter in the first half, using quick outside backs to create width on the right side and stretch the midfield and the defenders. Bruin junior defender Jacey Pederson contained attackers from crossing from the corner but UCLA’s defenders did not combine and push as far up the field to combine with attackers as in previous games.
The Bruins logged their first shot on goal from freshman midfielder Maricarmen Reyes in the first five minutes of the second half. UCLA found more chances in the second half, with six out of 12 shots forcing saves.
Florida entered the game on a two-game losing streak after dropping matches to Ohio State and No. 14 Oklahoma State, with the latter coming in double overtime. The Gators had not lost two straight matches since the 2002 season.
“We have got to be better position players and be more composed on the ball,” Cromwell said. “I think we got better in the Florida game, especially in the second half and we were unlucky because we had the chance to score one or two as our possession got better and decision making got better.”
Neither team could break the deadlock, despite creating chances in both periods of overtime marking goalkeeper Teagan Micah’s 20th career shutout.
UCLA vs. Florida State
Florida State last faced UCLA in the 2013 College Cup Final, where the Seminoles fell 1-0.
Both sides were undefeated heading into the contest and Florida State was one of seven teams in the nation to not concede a goal. UCLA conceded from open play during the match for the first time this season.
Cromwell said that UCLA has to improve defensively, as during the trip south the backline was disappointing.
“We played three different formations tonight and it didn’t really matter, it was a matter of defending better and having composure in the right spots of the field,” Cromwell said. “We had a lot of corner kicks and we probably should finish one of those corner kicks. It was frustrating. We showed urgency at the end of the first half and the end of the second half, but it’s a 90-minute game.”
The Seminoles had two shots in the first 15 minutes of the match and their possession in the UCLA half forced five saves from Micah. Florida State capitalized headed goal from defender Anna Patten.
Florida State doubled its lead later in the first half when defender Kirsten Pavlisko split the UCLA defense and scored. Every shot the Seminoles took in the first half was on goal, while the Bruins only landed half their shots on frame. The Seminoles finished with 11 shots versus the Bruins’ seven.
UCLA cut the lead to one with under 10 minutes remaining in the first half when Reyes curled a half-volley from the right-hand side of the box into the left side-netting. The effort was Reyes’s first career goal for the Bruins and Cromwell said the younger players will need to continue to step up in the lineup and contribute.
Florida State regained their 2-goal cushion in the first five minutes of the second half after forward Kristen McFarland powered the ball from the edge of the box past Micah.
The Seminoles and goalkeeper Brooke Bollinger protected the two-goal lead for the remainder of the game. Chances were scarce for the Bruins in the second half, with three shots. Florida State added one more goal with a powerful shot from midfielder Yujie Zhao into the top left corner.
The Bruins, Gators and Seminoles were all without leading offensive players due to their obligations to national teams. UCLA All-Americans senior forward Hailie Mace and junior midfielder Jessie Fleming were called up to the American and Canadian national teams, respectively.
Cromwell said although it hurt to lose Fleming and Mace, the team needs to improve in the attacking third as a whole.
“We are just not clicking in the attacking third,” Cromwell said. “It doesn’t help to be down two players with the national teams. When you have that kind of quality player, it makes a difference, but we just have to do it with or without them, because we’ll be missing them later in the season as well.”
Fleming logged 6 goals and eight assists in 2017 and Mace led the Bruins in points and goals with 33 and 15, respectively. Both players were named to the MAC Hermann Trophy watchlist before the season, awarded to the best player in NCAA women’s soccer.
Gator forward Deanne Rose also missed the game because of national team commitments. The 2017 SEC Freshman of the Year and All-SEC First Team member joined Fleming on the Canadian national team. Florida State was without defender Natalia Kuikka, the 2017 Finland Female National Player of the Year.
Cromwell said the road trip was a test of the squad’s depth, but the individual efforts did not make up for the full team’s troubles.
“We got to see some players in different roles,” Cromwell said. “We had to change formation tonight a little bit to see if that would help and in the end, but it was a really off night for us. Some players had good performances individually, but as a team it was one of those nights we could not do much right.”
After over a week on the road, UCLA returns home to the West Coast to face Pepperdine on Friday in Wallis Annenberg Stadium.