The Bruins are one point out of the lead in the Pac-12.
No. 8 UCLA women’s soccer (13-3-1, 8-2-0 Pac 12) beat No. 20 Colorado (13-13-3, 5-3-2) 2-1 to extend its win streak to eight games.
“We just try to keep playing our game and not get caught up in the disruptive play of fouling and getting the ball out of play,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “(Colorado) had the ball in the air a lot and they like to play off the flicks, so it’s hard to get a rhythm in this kind of game.”
Sophomore defender Karina Rodriguez said that the team was cognizant of using their style of play to avoid a potential injury.
“We were just making sure that we were smart and we were keeping the ball moving so that we didn’t give them a chance to foul us,” Rodriguez said. “We had to try to protect ourselves and our teammates by giving them good passes and direction on the ball.”
Multiple players left with injuries and Colorado finished with 19 fouls and three yellow cards – one of which was issued to the bench in the final 10 minutes for misconduct.
The Bruins got off to an early lead in the 20th minute when redshirt junior midfielder Chloe Castaneda touched the ball around the Colorado keeper off of sophomore forward Ashley Sanchez’s free kick.
UCLA went into halftime with a 1-0 lead, notching four shots on goal, while preventing the Buffaloes from logging a single one.
The score held until Colorado midfielder Taylor Kornieck finished a cross to bring the match to a tie in the 69th minute.
“It’s definitely tough playing against someone who’s that tall and good in the air, so we just had to get a body on (Kornieck),” Rodriguez said. “Other than the one she scored on, which was kind of a rebound and I think was kind of lucky, I think we did a good job of challenging the ball.”
Kornieck’s goal was the fourth the Bruins have conceded in the last eight games, in which UCLA has outscored its opponents 26-4.
The Bruin backline saw more rotation than usual in the absence of sophomore midfielder/defender Delanie Sheehan, who was out sick. Junior defender Kaiya McCullough also left the match in the 38th with a knee injury, but returned for the second half.
The rotation included two defenders who have started every match, Rodriguez and McCullough, along with senior Hailie Mace, junior Jacey Pederson, junior Sunny Dunphy and sophomore Kennedy Faulknor.
“It’s different in a Sunday game, in altitude,” Cromwell said. “The players were definitely a little tired so we had to get some rotation in there.”
UCLA’s game-winner came with around 13 minutes left in the game. Sanchez stole the ball off a Buffalo defender and put it in the back of the net to take a 2-1 lead for the Bruins.
Sanchez is now on an eight-match point-scoring streak and leads the team in all scoring categories with eight goals, seven assists and 23 points.
“I think building better relationships with people on my team has helped,” Sanchez said. “Toward the end of the season I’ve been playing a lot of minutes with them and I’m just starting to see how they play.”
UCLA held onto the lead for the remaining minutes and walked away with three points – one point off of Stanford and USC, who are tied for first place in the Pac-12, after both teams tied their opponents on the road this weekend.
The Bruins will face the Trojans in their final regular season game Friday at the StubHub Center.