This post was updated Nov. 8 at 11:03 p.m.
Viviana Villacorta waited at the back post, tracking a shot as it ricocheted off the crossbar.
The junior midfielder pounced on the rebound, taking one touch before sending the ball into the back of the net to give UCLA a 3-2 lead over USC.
Villacorta was soon swarmed by her teammates in a dog pile, as the Bruins celebrated what would become their fourth straight win over the Trojans.
No. 14 UCLA women’s soccer (14-4-1, 8-3-0 Pac-12) upset No. 9 USC (14-4-1, 7-4-0) 4-2 on Friday night, keeping its rivalry winning streak alive and securing a second place conference finish for the Bruins.
“This is the best series in college soccer,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “It’s a huge game, not just because of the quality of the team we beat, but how we did it.”
USC opened the scoring in the fifth minute when midfielder Alea Hyatt sent the ball to forward/midfielder Natalie Jacobs, who tapped it into the back right corner past UCLA senior goalkeeper Teagan Micah.
“They came out hard and they wanted to win this one as we did,” said junior forward Ashley Sanchez. “They capitalized on a lot of their chances and I think it was hard. It was a battle the whole time.”
The Bruins outshot the Trojans five to one leading up to UCLA’s first goal of the night, and ended the game with 27 shots to USC’s four.
At 21 minutes, 24 seconds, Villacorta sent a pass up the field to redshirt senior forward Chloe Castaneda, who scored her third goal in three games with a shot to the back corner of the net.
UCLA took the lead less than six minutes later when Sanchez recorded her eleventh assist of the season with a pass to freshman forward Mia Fishel at the edge of the box. Fishel took one step in before ripping a shot to the upper left corner at USC goalkeeper Kaylie Collins’ head.
With two minutes remaining in the first half, USC equalized with a goal from forward Penelope Hocking, who stole the ball from the Bruin backline, dribbled from the sideline to the six yard box and slotted a shot over Micah.
“The halftime talk was mostly about how we were playing great,” Cromwell said. “It was one of the most dominant halves of the year, and we just had to keep doing what we were doing and trust in (it).”
The tie held until the 75th minute, when Villacorta’s follow-up to junior defender Delanie Sheehan’s shot put UCLA ahead.
Just three minutes later, Sheehan ripped another long-range shot that nailed the crossbar, before bouncing to Sanchez. Sanchez jumped to head the ball back into action, and her touch found the head of junior defender Lucy Parker – good for another Bruin goal.
The matchups between USC and UCLA have been decided by a one-goal differential every year since 2016, with the most recent two games going to overtime.
“Everyone was switched on today,” Villacorta said. “We were a collective unit. We were a machine that wanted to go out and beat ’SC. We dominated most of the game to show it.”
The Trojans didn’t log a single shot in the second half, and ended the game with four shots to the Bruins’ 27.
Sanchez’s assist was the 39th in her less-than-three years in Westwood, breaking the UCLA women’s soccer record for most career assists.
The rivalry match was the Bruins’ last of the regular season, but UCLA will start its NCAA tournament slate Nov. 15.