Women’s soccer hopes to extend 6-game winning streak at Utah, Colorado
Redshirt senior defender Jacey Pederson is coming off her first career Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week award as No. 3 UCLA women’s soccer heads to the mountains for a pair of Pac-12 fixtures. (Ella Barnes/Daily Bruin)
Friday, 11 a.m.
Salt Lake City, UT
By Jacqueline Dzwonczyk
March 11, 2021 2:04 p.m.
The Bruins will enter the weekend riding their longest conference-opening winning streak since 2017.
“Obviously, we’ve set ourselves up pretty well for playoffs,” said freshman forward Reilyn Turner. “But we need to continue on our winning streak – I think that’s pretty much the goal for us moving on.”
No. 3 UCLA women’s soccer (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) will travel to the mountains to face Colorado (4-2-1, 1-1-1) on Friday morning and Utah (1-4-2, 0-2-1) at noon Sunday. The Bruins are ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12 as the only undefeated team, while the Buffaloes and Utes are both in the bottom half of the standings.
Coach Amanda Cromwell said the colder climate will be a factor working against UCLA in both matches this weekend.
“The weather is always going to be the equalizer,” Cromwell said. “Hopefully our girls wear our tights and gloves and stay warm and do our thing.”
Despite its current standing, Colorado has yet to drop a match or concede a goal at home this season. Buffalo goalkeeper Dani Hansen owns a 0.79 goals against average and leads the Pac-12 in saves.
Cromwell said while Hansen comes off her line well and uses her size to her advantage, she has also shown some weaknesses.
“I saw a goal (Hansen) gave up against Stanford that was near post – she kind of misjudged it,” Cromwell said. “So we’re telling our girls to make sure we get a lot of shots on frame, make her make saves and see if we can capitalize on a rebound.”
Utah has already faced five ranked opponents in its opening seven games and will enter this weekend on a three-game losing streak, having been held scoreless over its last four matches. The Bruins have defeated the Utes in each of their previous three seasons, with their last loss to Utah having been in 2016.
Redshirt senior defender Jacey Pederson said facing the Utes on the road in the colder climate is one of the challenges the Bruins are preparing for.
“We are aware of the fact that it is going to be pretty cold,” Pederson said. “We are going to find a way to power through, and knowing that it is temporary and we will get to come back to California sunshine is a light at the end of the tunnel for the weekend.”
Pederson was honored as this week’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in her career after playing a season-high 90 minutes against Oregon and logging 88 more against Oregon State.
Prior to the start of the 2020-2021 slate, she had not competed for UCLA since Nov. 2, 2018, because of an injury that forced her to redshirt her senior season, followed directly by the pushback of her fifth year because of COVID-19.
“It’s definitely been quite the journey in terms of getting back to playing,” Pederson said. “But it’s been really good to get back and play with the team and against other teams. It reminds me of how much fun soccer is when you get to play it.”
The Bruins will head out on their longest road trip of the regular season Thursday.