Comfortable win over Lamar sees women’s soccer into NCAA tournament second round
Sophomore midfielder Maricarmen Reyes scored the third goal in No. 2-seeded UCLA women’s soccer’s win over Lamar on Friday. Reyes returned from a knee injury seven games ago and has notched three goals since. (James Schaap/Daily Bruin)
|No. 2 seed UCLA||4|
Nov. 16, 2019 7:08 p.m.
This post was updated Nov. 22 at 10:28 p.m.
For the fourth straight year, the Bruins made it to the second round.
No. 2 seed UCLA women’s soccer (15-4-1, 8-3 Pac-12) took down Lamar (16-7-0, 10-1 Southland Conference) 4-1 at home Friday night in its first postseason match. The Bruins took a season-high 33 shots – including 19 in the first half – and 21 shots on goal.
“I think it was important to get some early goals in the first half,” said sophomore midfielder Maricarmen Reyes. “We didn’t back down, and just kept going and pushing. I think if we keep that up, we can do some more damage in the next games.”
UCLA took the lead at the nine-minute mark on its fourth shot of the game. Redshirt senior forward Anika Rodriguez sent a corner kick to senior midfielder Jessie Fleming, who settled the bouncing ball and buried it in the top right corner.
The Bruins almost scored on another set piece in the 21st minute, when freshman forward Mia Fishel attempted a header off a Rodriguez corner kick, but Lamar goalkeeper Erin Branch kept it from getting past. Branch finished with 15 saves – the most by any goalkeeper against UCLA this season.
“When you’re going up against a goalkeeper like (Branch), you have to hit it lower sometimes,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “She had some good saves, and good keepers are going to do that, especially at this level in the postseason. We have to be better at being clinical finishers.”
After eight straight missed shots – and six consecutive saves by Branch – the Bruins finally notched another goal in the 32nd minute. Senior defender Sunny Dunphy attempted a header that bounced off the left post, but the ball ricocheted right to junior defender Delanie Sheehan, who tapped it past Branch’s diving attempt.
Sheehan used to play midfielder but converted to defender early last season. She has scored two goals and notched three assists this year.
“I think with both of our wingbacks, it’s really handy to have them playing forward,” said junior defender Lucy Parker. “That formation is starting to suit us really well. It’s starting to look a lot more dangerous.”
UCLA added its third goal of the first half five minutes later. A loose ball in the box went to Reyes, who notched her third goal in seven games since returning from injury.
Reyes said it means a lot to her to be able to contribute, especially during the postseason.
“I think hard work pays off,” Reyes said. “I’m just blessed that I have an opportunity to play again, and I’m inspired by my team.”
Freshman forward Kali Trevithick pushed the score to 4-0 in the 75th minute with her first official collegiate goal. Like Reyes, Trevithick has been injured for much of the year, missing 14 games before her return against USC last Friday.
The Bruin defense held the Cardinals to just one shot in the first half. Lamar saw an opportunity on a counterattack in the 21st minute, but senior defender Kaiya McCullough stripped the ball from forward Esther Okoronkwo, the second-leading goal-scorer in the country.
UCLA kept Lamar scoreless until the final minute of the game, when a turnover by the Bruins led to a Cardinal counterattack that ended in a goal by forward Lucy Ashworth.
“We’re obviously frustrated about letting that goal in,” Parker said. “We wanted the clean sheet, but we just have to tidy some things up. We need to look at what went wrong, and take that into the next game.”
UCLA will next play Clemson at home in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Friday.