The Bruins have claimed their first conference win of the season.
No. 16 UCLA women’s soccer (6-3-1, 1-2 Pac-12) defeated California (4-6-1, 0-3 Pac-12) by a score of 4-0 in Berkeley on Sunday.
The Bruins recorded 21 shots on goal and forced eight saves, while the Golden Bears produced only four shots and forced three total saves.
This victory follows two consecutive losses in UCLA’s first two conference matches against No. 9 Washington State (10-0, 3-0) and No.1 Stanford (10-0-1, 3-0).
“The team is in a really good place,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “We wanted to make a statement today to show everything that we have been working on is coming together. Some of these teams make it ugly so we needed to be secure in our style.”
The Bruins controlled the ball early in the match, but couldn’t break the deadlock despite a number of close calls – including a shot by sophomore midfielder Viviana Villacorta that got past goalkeeper Amanda Zodikoff but was stopped by Golden Bear defender Caroline Clark.
UCLA was unable to find the back of the net until the 18th minute, when sophomore forward Ashley Sanchez assisted junior forward Sunny Dunphy to score her first goal of the season.
Senior forward Anika Rodriguez doubled the Bruins’ lead with her second goal of the season late in the first half with a shot from outside the box that flew past Zodikoff.
“In the past couple games, I haven’t taken chances that I should have,” Rodriguez said. “I have been dribbling myself out of shots. So in this game, I really wanted to take advantage of my opportunities.”
Once UCLA secured a 2-0 advantage, players who have not seen regular game time recently began to enter the field of play.
Sophomore midfielder Marley Canales, who had missed five straight games due to injury, entered the game shortly before halftime for freshman midfielder Maricarmen Reyes. Junior goalkeeper Teagan Micah, who had also not played recently due to injury, replaced redshirt freshman goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy in the second half.
“Having (Canales and Brzykcy) back is so great,” Villacorta said. “They are both leaders on the field and have been leaders from the bench as well. They are supportive, so having them on the field is amazing for team morale.”
Both teams struggled to find the back of the net in the second half until Villacorta increased the Bruins’ lead with a left-foot shot from outside the box to the upper-right corner of the goal that was out of reach of Zodikoff.
Villacorta scored her first goal of the season against Stanford on Thursday night, taking her to two goals in back-to-back games.
“Everyone – even my coaches – has been telling me to shoot more,” Villacorta said. “So I knew I had the perfect opportunity to just shoot. I was really excited to see it go through.”
Rodriguez scored her third goal of the season and second of the game in the 74th minute to secure UCLA’s victory at 4-0.
UCLA will return home for two straight home games next week, taking on Arizona State (6-3-1, 1-1-1) and Arizona (8-2-1, 1-1-1).
“This conference win was huge for us,” Rodriguez said. “This is a turning point. Now we’ll face more conference teams and we know what we have to do to get what we want.”