The Bruins did score one goal in their 2-0 loss to the Broncos.
It was just in the wrong net.
No. 2 UCLA women’s soccer (4-1) lost its 17-game unbeaten streak to Santa Clara (2-3) on Thursday night in its first match of the season outside of Southern California. The Broncos’ go-ahead net was an own-goal knocked in by a Bruin defender.
“(The Broncos) were desperate for a win and I could tell that they had more players rise to the occasion than we did,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “They definitely fouled us throughout the match to get us off our rhythm, and it worked to an extent.”
Santa Clara’s first chance came in the fourth minute of action. Midfielder Izzy D’Aquila was awarded a penalty kick when senior defender Kaiya McCullough slide-tackled her in the box.
The penalty shot missed high and the Bruins were in the clear for the time being.
“It was a completely clean tackle and the referee didn’t see it that way,” McCullough said.
Fifteen minutes after the Broncos’ penalty attempt, a Santa Clara corner kick and header was sent to a UCLA defender near the goal line. The ball bounced off the defender and entered the goal without being touched by senior goalkeeper Teagan Micah.
The Broncos found the back of the net once again 10 minutes into the second half of the match when midfielder Skylar Smith’s cross-net shot to the lower left corner slid past Micah.
“I think (the defensive line) can stay more connected,” said junior midfielder Viviana Villacorta. “(The Broncos) really broke us down and got behind us. We will look at film and watch their movement and see what we can do better.”
The Bruin offense saw some changes in Thursday’s match. For the first time this season, freshman forward Kali Trevithick was replaced by redshirt senior forward Chloe Castaneda in the UCLA starting XI. Cromwell said that Trevithick is currently nursing an injury.
Redshirt senior forward/midfielder Anika Rodriguez also entered the match to start the second half. Rodriguez has not played since last year, when she suffered a season-ending knee injury October 10, 2018.
“The people who came off the bench brought a lot of energy to the game that we needed,” McCullough said. “It was really nice to have (Rodriguez) back on the field. A lineup change always gives us a different look at things, which we need sometimes.”
As the game went on, the physicality increased for each team. By the end of the competition, Santa Clara had logged 19 fouls and UCLA had 13.
But the match was not without disputes. Late in the second half, several possible fouls were debated by the Bruins, including a potential handball in the penalty box in the 63rd minute. If called, UCLA would have received a penalty kick of their own.
“I think the referee did a really poor job of managing the game,” McCullough said. “There were some yellow cards given out, but I think there should have been more. Overall, it was a really physical game and we’ve got the knocks to prove it.”
This was the third time in four years that the Broncos have upset the No. 2 ranked team in the NCAA. Santa Clara bested Stanford in 2016 and topped North Carolina in 2018. The last time the Bruins lost to the Broncos was 2006.
The Bruins have a nine-day break before they will meet their next opponent, No. 16 Wisconsin (3-1-1), at Wallis Annenberg Stadium on September 14.
“This was a really hard stretch,” Cromwell said. “Three games this past week – against all top teams – we just need a break and we get that now. They need it, their bodies need it, and their minds need it.”