The Bruins have had to be ready to play a number of positions.
No. 8 UCLA women’s soccer (11-3-1, 6-2-0 Pac-12) has had to work around the absence of a number of key players this season.
“It’s been hard having everyone gone with injuries or to be on the national team,” said sophomore defender Kennedy Faulknor. “We’ve had to move a bunch of players around. They’ve been doing really well where we need them.”
Senior forward/defender Hailie Mace and junior midfielder Jessie Fleming – both whom have been on national team duty – returned to the field Sunday when UCLA took on Oregon State.
Injured players include redshirt junior forward/midfielder Anika Rodriguez, junior defender Jacey Pederson, sophomore midfielder Marley Canales and junior goalkeeper Teagan Micah. All except Rodriguez have returned from the disabled list.
While players were gone, those who stuck around have been expected to move around the field to fill empty positions.
“It’s always the same for me (when I switch roles),” Mace said. “I think that (coach Amanda Cromwell) is going to play me wherever, so I just always make sure that I’m working hard and playmaking and just being a team player.”
Sophomore forward Ashley Sanchez said that although she has a position preference, she understands that she has to play where she’s needed.
“I prefer to play the (attacking center midfielder) because I get on the ball more,” Sanchez said. “But as long as I get to be on the field I can’t complain. We’ve had to work around our circumstances.”
Cromwell said that sophomore midfielder Viviana Villacorta has succeeded in multiple roles, and that she has confidence that Villacorta will fit in next to Fleming moving forward.
Cromwell also said that Canales, sophomore midfielder Olivia Athens and freshman midfielder Maricarmen Reyes will all be considered for center midfielder after Sunday’s game.
“We even got (Pederson) in the midfield a little bit now,” Cromwell said. “(Sophomore midfielder Delanie Sheehan) can play there too depending on how things go. We put players where we need them.”
Mace played left back in UCLA’s win against Oregon State, and managed to score two goals. Cromwell said that Mace will likely be asked to play left back when she returns to the American national team.
“It’s kind of a win-win situation because that’s where she’ll be playing on the national team, as well,” Cromwell said. “I think that we need her there now, so she can go in and improve herself.”