The Bruins have redeemed themselves.
No. 7 UCLA women’s soccer (3-1-1) beat the Pepperdine Waves (1-5) 3-0 on Friday night at Wallis Annenberg Stadium where the Bruins recorded their highest goal tally so far this season. The win comes after UCLA’s tie with Florida and its first defeat of the season in a 4-1 loss to No. 3 Florida State last weekend to end a 12-day road trip.
“Having the fans on our side was huge today,” said senior forward Anika Rodriguez. “You could feel that. Overall, we got together as a team and decided that (last week’s games) were not going to define our season.”
UCLA opened the scoring just over four minutes into the first half when senior forward Hailie Mace assisted Rodriguez to power a shot past Pepperdine goalkeeper Brielle Preece. A last-ditch attempt to stop the goal by Wave forward Michelle Maemone resulted in her sliding into the back of the net with the ball between her knees.
“All three of us touched the ball before I scored,” Rodriguez said. “It was great teamwork. That’s all we can ask for.”
Near the end of the half, sophomore forward Ashley Sanchez attempted to double the lead but was blocked by Preece. Despite the early goal, both teams failed to score for the remainder of the first half and it ended 1-0.
In the first minute of the second half, a high shot in the middle of the goal by junior forward Sunny Dunphy nearly gave the Bruins a 2-goal lead, but it was once again blocked by Preece.
The Bruins racked up 11 shots on goal in the half and added to their lead in the 58th minute. Freshman midfielder Maricarmen Reyes, making her first career start, found the back of the net for the second time this season to increase UCLA’s lead to 2-0.
An assist from Rodriguez gave Sanchez her second goal of the year and brought the final score to 3-0 with just over six minutes remaining in the game. Although the Waves forced two saves out of junior goalkeeper Teagan Micah late in the half, they remained scoreless.
“I got the ball from (Rodriguez) and I saw the defender take a step thinking I was going to step by her,” Sanchez said. “That is when I knew I had my chance to take a shot on goal.”
Some of the Bruins’ key players have been absent recently due to injuries and participation in national tournaments.
Senior forward Hailie Mace and junior midfielder Jessie Fleming missed last week’s games while playing on their respective national teams. Sophomore midfielder Viviana Villacorta, Sanchez and Reyes each represented their countries in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in France earlier this month. Fleming and junior defender Jacey Pederson are among those Bruins currently nursing injuries.
“We are dealing with a lot of injuries right now,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “We even have some players playing positions that they don’t usually play. I’m happy the players are stepping up and filling in holes.”
UCLA will be traveling again next week to face Loyola Marymount on Thursday, followed by a second away matchup against San Diego State on Sept. 16.
“We’ve decided that we are going to be different on the road,” Rodriguez said. “This is a redemption series for us.”