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Women’s soccer starts 2022 season strong as Ally Cook fills in offensive void

Graduate student forward Ally Cook kicks the ball. Cook scored two of UCLA’s five goals in its exhibition game Saturday against Fresno State. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

By Jay Fenn

Aug. 14, 2022 3:02 p.m.

UCLA women’s soccer is entering the 2022 season as a different team.

Coach Margueritte Aozasa is leading the Bruins’ new coaching staff in her first career head coaching job. The blue and gold will also head into the upcoming season without 2021 leading scorer forward Mia Fishel. However, with the roster and coaching staff changes, UCLA landed a 5-1 victory in Saturday’s exhibition game against Fresno State.

After returning seven of its 11 starters from last season, UCLA looks to be a similar team on paper, playing with the new strategies brought by its incoming coaches. Graduate student midfielder Maricarmen Reyes had strong praise for the new coaching staff.

“It’s been amazing having them here,” Reyes said. “Everything they have provided for us has been nothing but amazing.”

After losing their leading offensive threat and the majority of their offensive production, the Bruins had to find new scoring leaders.

Graduate student forward Ally Cook found the back of the net twice on Saturday and was carving up the Bulldogs’ defense the entire evening. The Oregon transfer flirted with a hat trick after one shot bounced off the crossbar and another missed by inches.

Aozasa said she was impressed by Cook’s performance and thought her experience shined on the pitch.

“One player that was definitely not nervous was Ally,” Aozasa said. “In her maturity, her leadership, just in her effort today, she really set the tone for us. I’m really excited for her, and I know she’s going to make the most out of it.”

In three years at Oregon, Cook started 52 games and scored 17 goals. In 2021, she was named to the All-Pac-12 Third Team and led the Pac-12 in game-winning goals with four in 2020.

Cook, who hails from Coto de Caza, California, said donning the blue and gold is a dream come true.

“As a little girl, I remember watching the Final Four down in San Diego, watching UCLA, and I was like, ‘I want to play at UCLA,'” Cook said. “Obviously, I wasn’t here for the first three years, but now I’m here, and it’s really cool. It’s something special here.”

The Bruins’ top returning scorers from a year ago – Reyes and junior forward Reilyn Turner – each got on the board with a goal of their own. Behind the offensive flurry, the blue and gold – who scored four or more goals twice last season – unofficially opened up its 2022 season with a victory by a four-goal margin.

A year after losing midfielders Marley Canales and Olivia Athens, Reyes said the midfield is poised for a strong season.

“This midfield is super ready and super prepared,” Reyes said. “We’ve been prepared since last season, and every opportunity we get we’re ready to go.”

UCLA will open its regular season against Iowa on Thursday at Wallis Annenberg Stadium.

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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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