The Bruins got off to a 4-0 start before dropping their match for the first time last week. And in a lot of ways, Saturday’s game will be a similar test.
No. 5 UCLA women’s soccer (4-1-0) will return to the field to host No. 22 Wisconsin (4-1-1) on Saturday – nine days after it lost to Santa Clara on the road. Coach Amanda Cromwell said the Badgers will play a similar style and formation to the Broncos.
“They’ll probably play a little bit like Santa Clara did, in a 4-4-2, keep two high, keep pressure on our center backs – teams do that to keep us from sending one of our outside backs,” Cromwell said. “They’ll be really hard to break down, so that’s why we’re focusing on how to be a little bit more creative with combination play.”
The Bruins logged just four shots-on-goal in their match against the Broncos after notching eight or more in each of their previous four games.
Cromwell said UCLA needs to work on using its width for the entire 90 minutes and switching the ball across the field in the attack – two things she said broke down against Santa Clara.
“We were not as good in the attacking third with our decision making, our final pass was off, we kind of let them off the hook a bunch when we had some actually decent possession,” Cromwell said. “We get super narrow sometimes so we gotta use the width better (and) we get one-sided sometimes so we need to change the point of attack.”
The Broncos committed 19 fouls in last Thursday’s match, setting an aggressive style of play early. Junior midfielder Olivia Athens said she expects another physical battle with Wisconsin.
“I can assume they’re a big physical team, they’ll probably give us what Santa Clara gave us,” Athens said. “Santa Clara just kind of came out firing, so I guess it’s dealing with that kind of pressure and being patient and composed and still playing our game against that kind of chaos.”
The Badgers are 0-4 all-time against the Bruins with the last meeting coming in 2015. This season, Wisconsin took reigning national champion then-No. 1 Florida State to overtime before losing 1-0.
Forwards Dani Rhodes and Cameron Murtha lead Wisconsin with two goals each and three other Badgers have contributed to the team’s scoring this season.
Junior defender Karina Rodriguez said practice this week has been about learning from the game against Santa Clara to refocus against Wisconsin.
“We’re going to take the (Santa Clara) game, we’re going to learn from it and we’re going to grow from it and it was just a good checkpoint for us to see where we’re at,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of it for us is to be creative in the offensive half so we can create chances and score goals, and just working on getting a shutout every game.”
Kickoff will be at 6 p.m. Saturday.