This post was updated Nov. 3 at 8:32 p.m.
It was deja vu for the Bruins.
No. 6 UCLA women’s soccer (14-3-1, 9-2-0 Pac-12) conquered No. 2 USC (15-2-2, 8-2-1) 3-2 on Friday night in its final match of the regular season at the StubHub Center. This was the second consecutive year the Bruins won the rivalry match in overtime, posting the same scoreline as last year’s contest.
“It was end to end,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “(USC coach Keidane McAlpine) and I were talking at the end and we agreed that it would have been fair if it had been a tie. That’s easy for me to say when we win, but it really felt like it was a heavyweight slugfest. I’m really proud of the players that are here that worked their tails off to get it done. It felt like a postseason game, it felt like a final four game.”
The Trojans opened the scoring in the 36th minute when midfielder Savannah DeMelo collected the ball from forward Penelope Hocking in the box and shot to the lower left corner of the goal. Neither team managed to record a goal for the remainder of the half.
USC maintained control of the ball for the majority of the first half, recording six shots while allowing UCLA only three shots. The Bruins were quick to take control in the final half, recording 14 shots to the Trojans’ seven. UCLA outshot USC 21-18, including overtime.
“We changed some things around,” Cromwell said. “We wanted to get (sophomore forward) Ashley (Sanchez) on the ball more, we felt that she was a bit in and out of the game in the first half. We couldn’t find (senior defender) Hailie (Mace) as much as we wanted to in that wide space, and those are two people you want on the ball a lot.”
In the seventh minute of the second half, senior forward Julia Hernandez scored in the lower left corner off an assist from junior midfielder Jessie Fleming to erase the Bruins’ deficit.
A foul in favor of USC in the 63rd minute allowed for a penalty shot by midfielder Tara McKeown of the Trojans that soared over the Bruins’ goal.
“One of our girls, (Sanchez), had said that she had seen (McKeown) take a lot of penalties and knows her as a player and was screaming which way she usually goes,” said junior goalkeeper Teagan Micah. “(McKeown) turned around and saw that, so I think that got in her head and she tried to go the other way, which I guess was not her preferred side.”
With 86:26 on the clock, Hocking gave USC the lead with a one-on-one goal out of reach of Micah.
“As a coach that breaks your heart because you don’t want your goal scoring opportunity to turn into their goal,” Cromwell said. “But that’s the team they are, they’re opportunistic and fast on the counter.”
Just six seconds after the Trojans took the lead, a quick run off the line by Mace ended in her scoring in the upper left corner to once again close the deficit.
The goal occurred before spectators returned to their seats and tied an NCAA record for consecutive goals set in 2001.
Micah was put to the test again in the final seconds of regulation when she was successful in blocking a high shot by Hocking and ensuring that the match would go to overtime for the second year in a row.
The match remained tied after one 10-minute overtime period, forcing a second 10-minute period.
With Trojan goalkeeper Kaylie Collins out of the goal, the match was decided by a header by sophomore midfielder Olivia Athens that flew over the goalkeeper and into the back of net and the Bruins rushed the field.
The crosstown rivals were highly physical and the Trojans recorded 14 fouls against the Bruins in the match, compared to the UCLA’s eight. Athens said that the Bruins changed their play style to adapt to USC’s physicality.
“I think when you have such a physical team, moving the ball faster than they can get there,” Athens said. “So I think we wanted to settle the ball down and play and move off of each other. We started to do that and they kind of wore down and got tired.”
In winning the match, UCLA took second in the Pac-12 and cemented a third place finish for USC. No. 1 Stanford placed first in the conference earlier in the evening following a win over California.
The Bruins will now begin postseason play. Seeding for the NCAA playoffs will be announced Monday at 1:30 p.m.