After suffering its first loss of the season Friday, No. 2 UCLA (13-1-2, 6-1-1 Pac-12) scored early to defeat Washington (9-6-2, 2-4-2) 3-0.
The Bruins began attacking the goal from the blow of the whistle, imposing themselves on the Husky defense,
The Bruins attacked early in the victory, representing a change in game flow for a UCLA team that has consistently started slowly only to pick things up in the second half.
Sophomore midfielder Jessie Fleming got the Bruins on the scoreboard in the seventh minute with a cracking goal eight feet outside of the penalty area that flew over the reach of the Huskies’ keeper and into the top-left corner of the goal.
“I saw space in the field and hit it as hard as I could,” Fleming said. “Luckily it went in and we were able to get on the board early.”
UCLA continued to attack the Washington defense as the team kept pushing through the Huskies’ defensive third of the field, scoring a second goal in the 23rd minute.
Former No. 1-overall recruit freshman forward Ashley Sanchez delivered a pass near midfield that went through several Husky players, landing perfectly for junior forward Hailie Mace, who fired a shot past the goalkeeper.
“I one-touched the ball that went through and Hailie did a good job of finishing,” Sanchez said.
Mace’s tally was her 13th of the season, which leads the Pac-12.
The Bruins would create several other goal-scoring opportunities but Washington goalkeeper Sarah Shimer made a number of saves to keep Washington from falling further behind.
The Huskies then came out of the half attacking the ball and forcing several turnovers.
In the 46th minute, sophomore goalkeeper Teagan Micah hit the ball out of bounds, creating a throw-in for Washington that made its way into the back end of the penalty area, awaiting the feet of the Huskies’ Rachel Wheeler who shot the ball five feet from point-blank range, but missed high over the net.
In the 56th minute, a bad touch by Kaiya McCullough created a scoring opportunity for Washington, and the sophomore defender drew a yellow card in an attempt to stifle the chance. The set-piece shot from the Huskies’ midfielder Anissa Dadkhah was hit hard with pace, but a foot over the crossbar.
Coach Amanda Cromwell acknowledged the team’s turnovers, saying they would have to refine their passes, especially within the defensive third of the field.
‘We need to deliver better passes when teams press us,” Cromwell said. “We knew coming out of the half that Washington, would (press us).”
UCLA would settle back into the game, controlling the ball for most of the second half.
Sanchez would add a third tally late in the 87th minute. Sophomore forward Sunny Dunphy delivered a pass from out wide into the left side of the penalty area as Sanchez ran past her defender, one-touched the ball and hit it into the far right post – giving the goalkeeper no chance.
This was a positive display for the Bruins after suffering their first loss of the season.
“I thought we played well, especially in the first half.” Cromwell said. “We were able to score two early goals and dictate the pace from the onset. After our poor performance Friday, I am happy that the team played up to our expectations.”
UCLA returns home for a possible national championship preview in Westwood on Thursday as No. 1 Stanford makes its way south.