Saturday, January 25

No.1 UCLA women’s soccer aims to secure victories in upcoming games

(Amy Dixon/Assistant Photo editor)

UCLA women’s soccer may be unbeaten in thirteen matches, but the team’s record contains two blemishes – draws against unranked Pepperdine and Arizona.

The No. 1 Bruins (11-0-2, 4-0-1 Pac-12), despite dominating possession and providing greater attacking output than the Wildcats (5-4-3, 2-2-1), left Arizona without claiming a victory.

“We were hungry for a (winning) goal and we pressed them,” said redshirt sophomore forward Anika Rodriguez. “I think we created quality chances, we just didn’t finish.”

Rewind to three weeks ago.

Playing at home, UCLA was favored to beat unranked Pepperdine. It had won its first seven matches and averaged over three goals a game.

Despite claiming the lead early in the second half, the Bruins gave up a goal after failing to clear the ball and the match went into overtime.

A win seemed inevitable, especially when the ball fell to sophomore midfielder Jessie Fleming in the box. However, she sent an uncontested shot inches wide of the crossbar.

Other missed chances and key saves from the Pepperdine goalkeeper sealed the tie.

“We won’t have another game like that,” said coach Amanda Cromwell with respect to the match against Pepperdine.

They did.

The Bruins jumped out to an early lead against the Wildcats, thanks to goals from junior forwards Hailie Mace and Rodriguez. UCLA’s movement and passing around the box had them on pace to score four or five goals.

Then, a poor pass put sophomore goalkeeper Teagan Micah in a bad spot and the ball fell to Arizona forward Hannah Clifford for a simple open-net finish.

Arizona’s equalizer came off another turnover.

“We had a bad turnover that led to their first goal,” Cromwell said. “You can never give up easy goals and both the goals we gave up were really cheap.”

UCLA let its opponent back into the game, although the Bruins had opportunities to make amends.

No chance was bigger than the penalty kick in the 72nd minute. Mace stepped up to the spot. Her shot was saved and the tie remained.

Fleming, Rodriguez and Mace had other chances to win it, but the game ended 2-2.

“I definitely could’ve contributed more,” Mace said.

Examining both games, UCLA’s two draws follow a similar pattern. The Bruins grab the lead, control possession, create more shots and look like the stronger team throughout. Such elements usually result in a victory.

Missed chances and miscues in the back turn them into ties.

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