Women’s soccer readies for weekend homestand against Oregon schools
Senior midfielder Olivia Athens has played at least 70 minutes in all four of No. 3 UCLA women’s soccer’s fixtures this season, including the full 90 in the Pac-12 win over Arizona. (Daily Bruin file photo)
Friday, 5:30 p.m.
Wallis Annenberg Stadium
No TV info
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Wallis Annenberg Stadium
By Jacqueline Dzwonczyk
March 5, 2021 10:16 a.m.
The Bruins will play their first Friday-Sunday turnaround since 2019.
No. 3 UCLA women’s soccer (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) will host Oregon (2-1-1, 1-0) on Friday and Oregon State (2-2, 0-1) on Sunday in Wallis Annenberg Stadium. Conference matchups are typically played on Thursdays and Sundays to give players time to rest, and the Bruins have had three or more days off so far between all of their games this season.
“Saturday’s going to be a huge day for us to come back together, regroup and make sure we’re doing the right things for our body,” said freshman forward Kaila Novak. “That’s going to be important in terms of preparing us for Sunday again.”
Oregon and Oregon State have faced the same two Pac-12 opponents – then-No. 3 Stanford and then-No.14 California. Both the Ducks and the Beavers upset the Cardinal and lost to the Golden Bears. Oregon’s win over now-No. 19 Stanford marked its first in program history.
Coach Amanda Cromwell said she expects both teams to bring similar tactics from their wins over Stanford into the matches against UCLA.
“They’ll be super amped up from the big wins, and they’ll try to do the same things,” Cromwell said. “They know Stanford and us are similar in style and play, so they’ll try to press us like they did Stanford – they’ll try to get us to make mistakes in our own end, try to make the game choppy. … They’ll make it really difficult to score.”
While Oregon hasn’t had a winning season since 2006, the Ducks are competing under a new head coach, Graeme Abel. Abel previously worked as an assistant coach for the United States Women’s National Team when it won the FIFA World Cup in both 2015 and 2019.
Senior midfielder Olivia Athens said the coaching change, in combination with the win over Stanford, will give Oregon momentum coming into Friday’s matchup.
“(The Ducks) got a new coach this year, so that always sparks some new motivation with a team, and we know that,” Athens said. “We always say they play better than their record shows, so we’re hoping to get this win and move onto Oregon State.”
In Sunday’s matchup with the Beavers, senior defender Karina Rodriguez will return to the lineup for the Bruins after missing the last two games because of a Mexican National Team call-up.
She will join a UCLA backline that received recognition after last week’s win over Arizona, as senior defender Lucy Parker was named to the Top Drawer Soccer’s Team of the Week and sophomore defender Brianne Riley – who started in Rodriguez’s place – to College Soccer News Team of the Week.
“(Parker and Riley) have been big with the minutes they’ve been giving and how they’re playing and communicating,” Cromwell said. “We’ll need that going forward.”
Kickoff will be 5:30 p.m. against Oregon and 1 p.m. versus Oregon State.