— UCLA Women's Soccer (@UCLAWSoccer) October 1, 2021
UCLA women’s soccer concedes goal, maintains their undefeated streak
Graduate student midfielder Marley Canales initiated two set-piece goals for No. 3 UCLA women’s soccer as the Bruins earned their first Pac-12 win of the season Thursday. (Jack Stenzel/Daily Bruin)
|No. 3 UCLA||2|
By Jay Fenn
Oct. 1, 2021 12:25 p.m.
This post was updated Oct. 3 at 10:51 p.m.
For the first time in 794 minutes, the Bruins conceded a goal.
But No. 3 UCLA women’s soccer (9-0-1, 1-0-1 Pac-12) scored two goals of its own as the blue and gold defeated Arizona (3-6, 0-2) by a score of 2-1 to begin its two-game road trip in the Grand Canyon State. The Wildcat goal marks the first goal given up by the Bruins since their season-opener against UC Irvine.
Coach Amanda Cromwell said UCLA was able to overcome a slow start, making adjustments in the second half that allowed them to earn the victory.
“We weren’t good in the first half again, which was a little concerning,” Cromwell said. “We did change things up with our system and I think we got some players in that played well and helped us out.”
The Wildcats came out of the gates threatening to break the scoreless streak early, with a ninth-minute shot that senior goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy gave up a rebound on, but the reigning Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year was able to recover and make the save.
Arizona kept the pressure on with a 17th-minute cross from the left flank that narrowly missed the foot of a streaking Wildcat forward. Less than a minute later, Arizona tacked on another opportunity, firing a shot from outside the box that was again saved by Brzykcy.
But in the 20th minute, it was junior forward Mia Fishel who headed home the first goal of the game off a corner kick from graduate student midfielder Marley Canales. The goal marked UCLA’s first score off a corner kick this season and Fishel’s eighth goal of the year, good for second in the Pac-12.
“Goal-scoring obviously can change the momentum of the game,” Cromwell said. “After they scored, we had a good response to that. We were fortunate to get that goal. It was a great corner goal, but we need to be better just in overall possession.”
The Bruins ended the first half with eight shots, five of which were on goal, while adding six corner kicks as well. On the other side, the Wildcats tallied seven shots of their own with five on frame.
While the teams entered the halftime locker room with similar offensive stats, UCLA had the first opportunity of the second half. Freshman forward Lexi Wright fired a shot in the 49th minute, creating a rebound that Canales put on frame before the ball was saved by Arizona’s Hope Hisey.
In the 53rd minute, the Bruins’ eight-game shutout streak came to an end as Arizona forward Jill Aguilera put a shot into the upper left corner to beat Brzykcy, the first goal given up by the UCLA goalkeeper all season after playing nearly 800 scoreless minutes between the sticks.
“It was tough because we’ve had shutouts in the past games,” said senior midfielder Maricarmen Reyes. “We will bounce back from this, it’s not the end of the world. Obviously, it sucks that we didn’t get the shutout but the important thing is we got the (win).”
The Bruins had an opportunity to answer in the 70th minute on a volley from Reyes that was saved by Hisey for her eighth save of the game.
Hisey – who leads the Pac-12 in saves – would add three more stops in the final 20 minutes to finish with 11.
“I thought (Hisey) was fantastic,” Cromwell said. “Mia had (a shot) towards the end that I thought was going in the side netting that she was able to save. … She definitely earned her keep. She’s an excellent goalkeeper.”
Seconds after Hisey’s eighth stop, UCLA would answer with a goal from Reyes off its 11th corner kick of the night. It was the Bruins’ second goal of the game off a corner and Reyes’ third goal of the season.
Canales, who has taken the majority of UCLA’s corner kicks, said she views every set piece as a chance to set up a teammate for a goal.
“(Corners) are a great opportunity score,” Canales said. “We have some of the best finishers in the country and I just want to utilize every single opportunity and give my team the best chance to score.”
With 13 second-half shots, the Bruins wound up outshooting the Wildcats 21-14, nearly doubling their opponents’ shots on goal with a 13-7 advantage. The blue and gold also held a 13-2 edge on corner kicks.
UCLA has now started its Pac-12 schedule with a draw against Oregon and a one-goal win over Arizona. Canales said she attributes the close contests to the intensity of the conference games.
“That’s why they call it the conference of champions,” Canales said. “Every team brings something different, but they’re also just great soccer players. We just continue to clean stuff up and show the team what it is going to be like, so we have to rise to the challenge.”
UCLA next takes on Arizona State at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium on Sunday at 3 p.m.