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UCLA women’s soccer opens regular season with win over UC Irvine

In her first career start for UCLA women’s soccer, redshirt junior midfielder Madelyn Desiano tallied two assists in the game’s first 15 minutes. (David Rimer/Assistant Photo editor)

Women's Soccer

UC Irvine1
No. 5 UCLA3

By Jay Fenn

Aug. 20, 2021 12:24 p.m.

The Bruins’ revamped backline wasted no time getting itself acclimated.

Making the first start of her career and slotting in along the defensive backline, redshirt junior midfielder Madelyn Desiano notched her first assist in a UCLA uniform in the third minute as she helped set up senior midfielder Maricarmen Reyes for the Bruins’ first score of the season.

By the 15th minute, Desiano had already tacked on another assist, feeding sophomore forward Reilyn Turner – last season’s top Pac-12 goal-scorer – for another goal.

“(Making my first start) felt really good,” Desiano said. “I have been working toward this for a very long time, and it’s just a really special feeling to know that all my hard work has paid off.”

No. 5 UCLA women’s soccer (1-0) opened its season at Wallis Annenberg Stadium with a 3-1 victory over UC Irvine (0-1). The Bruins struck early and often with three first-half goals coming in the third, 15th and 19th minutes.

“Scoring early, especially against an in-state team where the players know each other, is always important,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “You do not want those games to drag out too long because (the opposing team) gets more confident as the game goes on.”

After junior forward Mia Fishel began her final season in Westwood with a goal in the 19th minute to put the blue and gold up three scores, UCLA made eight first-half substitutions. When the game was over, a total of 26 Bruins saw playing time.

UCLA was unable to transition its offensive success to the second half, failing to score the remainder of the game. In the 89th minute, UC Irvine attempted only its sixth shot of the contest, but it found the back of the net to give the Anteaters their only score of the match.

In goal for UCLA at the time was redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Mitchell, who made her collegiate debut in the match. Mitchell replaced senior goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy – named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List – who played the first half for the Bruins and made one save, holding the Anteaters to a shutout at halftime.

Besides the one goal allowed, Mitchell made a pair of saves, including a diving save in the 82nd minute, where she scrambled back to the goal to save the ball inches before it crossed the goal line. The save landed Mitchell a spot at No. 2 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays of the day.

“It was unfortunately (Hannah’s) mistake coming out – she put herself in a bad spot, but she made up for it with an amazing effort to get back to the line,” Cromwell said. “I think our keepers both did well enough to earn the shutout.”

Also making her first start for the Bruins was junior defender Kylie Kerr, who anchored a defense full of new faces and ranked second among UCLA players in minutes with 72. As a result, the junior was awarded her first career Bruin of the Match.

For the second time in two years, and first regular season game, the Bruins had fans in the stands rooting them on. The fans did not need to wait long to cheer, as the flurry of early goals brought an aura of excitement to the home crowd.

“It is my first year having fans in the stands, so it is really awesome to see my whole family in the stands supporting me,” Turner said. “It is really great to go out there knowing we are not just playing for us, but the fans as well.”

UCLA will return to action Sunday when it travels to Cal State Fullerton for a matchup with the defending Big West champions.

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Jay Fenn | Sports staff
Fenn is currently a Sports staffer on the baseball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's soccer beat and a contributor on the beach volleyball and men's and women's golf beats.
Fenn is currently a Sports staffer on the baseball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's soccer beat and a contributor on the beach volleyball and men's and women's golf beats.
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