UCLA women’s soccer to take on Bay Area rivals in weekend homestand
In three seasons in Westwood, junior defender Kylie Kerr has not seen action against Stanford or California. Kerr and No. 5 UCLA women’s soccer will take on the Cardinal and Golden Bears on Thursday and Sunday, respectively, after taking down both teams a season ago. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)
Thursday, 7 p.m.
Wallis Annenberg Stadium
Sunday, 2 p.m.
Wallis Annenberg Stadium
By Jay Fenn
Oct. 28, 2021 3:11 p.m.
Last season, the Bruins beat the Golden Bears and snapped a seven-game skid against the Cardinal two days later to clinch the Pac-12 championship.
This season, they’ll face the two teams in the opposite order with similar Pac-12 implications on the line.
No. 5 UCLA women’s soccer (13-0-3, 5-0-3 Pac-12) will face off against No. 9 Stanford (12-3-1, 6-1-1) on Thursday night before turning to California (8-4-3, 4-3-1) on Sunday.
In the 2021 spring season, the Bruins took down the Cardinal and Golden Bears en route to winning the conference title. With UCLA, Stanford and USC being separated in the conference standings by two points, the homestand could have major implications on whether or not the blue and gold will repeat as conference champions for the first time since 2014.
When asked if she thought the team was feeling any extra pressure with the Pac-12 race being so close, coach Amanda Cromwell shared a quote from tennis legend Billie Jean King.
“Pressure is a privilege,” Cromwell said. “We’re always in position to have these high-pressure games, and it is important to have these games before the postseason.”
Unlike the contests last season, both matches will take place at UCLA’s home stadium – Wallis Annenberg Stadium. Junior defender Kylie Kerr said she is looking forward to the atmosphere the Bruin faithful will create.
“The home crowd has been awesome,” Kerr said. “Everyone is just excited to come to games again, and all the athletes are supporting each other, which just makes for a really good environment.”
UCLA will see Stanford 692 days after the Bruins were eliminated by the Cardinal in the 2019 College Cup semifinals and 1425 days after being defeated in a similar fashion in the 2017 College Cup championship. UCLA was defeated 4-1 and 3-2, respectively, in those playoff contests, ending the Bruins’ season.
The 2019 semifinal loss featured a moment in which Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer stood over then-freshman Mia Fishel after Meyer blocked the forward’s penalty kick.
Graduate student midfielder Olivia Athens – a member of both the 2017 and 2019 teams – said the College Cup defeats did not create a rivalry by themselves, but two elite programs vying for a conference and national championship every year has led to a friendly competition between the squads.
“It’s always fun to play each other, and they’ve been a powerhouse the last couple of years,” Athens said. “To get a win against them is always a good thing.”
After the Bruins take on the Cardinal on Thursday night, they will face off against the Golden Bears on Sunday afternoon, which also serves as the blue and gold’s Senior Day, in which eight seniors and departing players will be honored.
Cromwell said the seniors have been a vital part of this year’s team both on and off the field.
“They’re leading the way and we need them to keep leading the way,” Cromwell said. “They have been creative, helped us get shutouts, so they just need to keep doing what they have been doing.”
If UCLA can get through the weekend more than three points clear of Stanford and within three points of USC, it will set up a match against the Trojans on Nov. 5 to determine the winner of the “Conference of Champions.”
The Bruins will kick off against the Cardinal at 7 p.m. Thursday before facing the Golden Bears at 2 p.m. Sunday.