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Women’s soccer begins conference play with win against Arizona

Senior midfielder Delanie Sheehan opened the scoring as No. 4 UCLA women’s soccer defeated Arizona on the road in its first Pac-12 match of the season. (Kanishka Mehra/Photo editor)

Women's Soccer


No. 4 UCLA2
Arizona1

By Diego Farinha

Feb. 27, 2021 9:28 a.m.

Three goals in an eight-minute span decided the Bruins’ first conference match of the season.

No. 4 UCLA women’s soccer (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) secured a 2-1 victory over Arizona (4-1, 0-1) on Friday night in Tucson to remain unbeaten on the young season. The win marks the first time in three seasons the Bruins won their opening Pac-12 contest.

“It feels great,” said senior midfielder Delanie Sheehan. “In (past years), we haven’t won our first conference game, so I think setting the tone early and what we expect out of this season is a big win for us. I’m excited about the rest of the season.”

It was Sheehan’s first goal of the season in the 19th minute that started the scoring, as she dribbled past multiple Wildcats before the ball bounced around and fell at her feet for her to finish the job – placing the ball past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

“I saw the space,” Sheehan said. “My teammates created that space for me so I saw it and drove at it and was determined to get a shot off. … Just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Arizona responded two minutes later, as midfielder Madison Goerlinger recorded her first goal of the season after connecting on a give-and-go with forward Jill Aguilera.

It only took UCLA minutes to retake the lead. Sophomore forward Mia Fishel, the Bruins’ leading scorer from 2019, netted her second goal of the season after a cross was miskicked by the Wildcats’ defense. The goal was Fishel’s second game-winning score of the season.

From there on, the Bruins managed to shut out the Wildcats – a team that had yet to score fewer than two goals in a game this season – for the remaining 63 minutes. Sophomore defender Brianne Riley ventured across the defensive line to occupy senior defender Karina Rodriguez’s center back spot – absent because of Mexican national team duties – rather than playing her normal right back position.

Riley said the entire team contributed on the defensive side of the ball.

“Our forwards and (midfielders) did a good job of denying most of those long balls over the top,” Riley said. “When they did, it was just organization in the back and we had cover for each other, which provided a lot of help in the (defense). And we managed to prevent the crosses and shots.”

UCLA totaled 17 shots with nine being on target, forcing seven saves by Arizona goalkeeper Hope Hisey. The 17 attempts nearly tripled the average of Arizona’s opponents prior to the Friday night fixture.

Similar to the team defensive effort, coach Amanda Cromwell said she was pleased with the squad’s overall attacking play.

“I thought we had some really good moments of possession trying to then control the tempo,” Cromwell said. “I thought (redshirt freshman forward Sunshine Fontes) came in and did really well. (Senior forward) Kennedy Faulknor did really well holding up the ball. Our midfielders had to put in a lot of work. So I was just proud of the overall effort.”

The Bruins have a week to recover before they face Oregon on March 5 at Wallis Annenberg Stadium.

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Diego Farinha | Sports contributor
Farinha is currently a Sports contributor on the women's soccer beat.
Farinha is currently a Sports contributor on the women's soccer beat.
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