Wednesday, April 8

Women’s soccer experiences first loss of the season

Freshman forward Ashley Sanchez said the team needed a wider variety of offensive shots on the attack, as UCLA struggled Thursday night to get past the defensive wall that Washington State put up. (MacKenzie Coffman/Daily Bruin)

UCLA women’s soccer headed to Washington State as the only team in the conference without a loss.

The Cougars changed that.

No. 2 UCLA (12-1-2, 5-1-1 Pac-12) fell for the first time this season as Washington State (8-5-2, 2-4-0) pulled off the 1-0 upset at home.

[Related: Women’s soccer aims to counter defensive approach from Washington State]

“That was like the least collective effort of the year,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “It was very individualistic tonight.”

Washington State came out ready to stop the UCLA offense, keeping its players back on defense to put up a wall and block shots from its opponent.

“It was a struggle for us to get behind them because they just sat back there so we really couldn’t get behind there,” said junior forward Hailie Mace. “We were trying to get our numbers forward so we could outnumber them but they were definitely very successful in the counterattack. I think we got down on ourselves a little.”

Although they fell to the Bruins last year 2-1 in Westwood, the Cougars pulled off a 4-2 win when they hosted the Bruins two years ago.

A Cougar corner kick set up midfielder Maegan O’Neill for a lethal shot. O’Neill slid to the ball, sending it high past sophomore goalkeeper Teagan Micah to score in just the fourth minute.

“We just can’t give up an early goal like that on set play,” Cromwell said. “That’s what teams play for sometimes, and we just have to be a lot better about winning out the first and second balls and anticipating instead of reacting.”

Cromwell said Cougars goalkeeper Ella Dederick was trying to hold onto the ball and run down the clock four minutes into the game. After the Washington State goal, Cromwell said UCLA had to try and keep the ball in play so that the game wasn’t being delayed whenever the ball went out of bounds.

“There was a part of the game that didn’t have a flow to it,” Cromwell said.

The Cougars continued to be aggressive on the attack, with five shots on goal out of seven total shots in the first half. Washington State had a number of other opportunities to score, particularly on its set pieces throughout the game, but wasn’t able to execute on its final shots.

Micah made a series of saves in the 15 minutes after the single goal of the match to hold the Cougars to a one-goal lead.

UCLA struggled to get touches early on and had trouble maintaining possession of the ball in the face of consistent pressure from Washington State.

“We just weren’t dangerous enough,” Cromwell said. “We need to be a bit more sophisticated in finding the second runner and having three-man combinations and better movement off the ball.”

UCLA started in a 4-3-3 formation but Cromwell shifted to a 3-5-2 in the second half, which she said helped in terms of gaining more possession.

Out of the Bruins’ 13 total shots, only five of them were on goal and none of them made it past the line.

“We needed to do better at trying to have more of a variety of attacking,” said freshman forward Ashley Sanchez. “I think we continued to do the same thing all game.”

The Cougars held the Bruins scoreless as the clock wound down, as Dederick posted four saves on her way to a shutout against the No. 2 team in the country.

“I guess our frustrations got to us with time managing,” Sanchez said. “It was just something that we hadn’t experienced yet and we didn’t really know how to handle.”

The Bruins takes on the Washington Huskies on Sunday in the second part of its final road trip of the regular season.

“We were just very predictable,” Cromwell said. “I think we reacted to a lot of things tonight instead of anticipating. … We have to come out a lot better on Sunday.”

Zhang joined the Bruin as a sophomore in 2015 and contributed until she graduated in 2018. She was an assistant Sports editor for the 2017-2018 academic year and spent time on the women's water polo, women's soccer, women's volleyball, men's volleyball, and cross country beats.

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