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UCLA women’s soccer readies to play Cal State Fullerton after moving up to No. 1

Sophomore forward Lexi Wright kicks the ball past the opponent’s defense. Wright scored one of No. 1 UCLA women’s soccer’s two goals in its most recent victory against No. 2 North Carolina. (Eden Yu/Daily Bruin)

Women's Soccer

Cal State Fullerton
Sunday, 5 p.m.

Wallis Annenberg Stadium
Pac-12 Networks

By Cecilia Schmitz

Sept. 10, 2022 12:12 p.m.

The Bruins are making their return to the West Coast after climbing their way to the top of the rankings back east.

Following up its pair of wins on its North Carolina road trip, No. 1 UCLA women’s soccer (5-0) will face off against Cal State Fullerton (3-1-3) at home. The Bruins hold a 6-0 record all-time against the Titans, defeating them 3-0 in their most recent matchup in August 2021.

UCLA emerged victorious last week after two victories over then-No. 1 North Carolina and then-No. 2 Duke. Coach Margueritte Aozasa began her first season at the helm of the Bruins with her team ranked No. 13, but the Bruins have now clinched the top-ranked spot.

Aozasa said early wins against top teams help assist the team in the building of its confidence.

“It helped us build trust, even more trust, I would say, between the staff and the team and then also from player to player,” Aozasa said.

The weekend in North Carolina presented a new opportunity to most of the team. The game against Duke marked UCLA’s first matchup with the Blue Devils since 2017.

Similarly, out of the four graduate student players on UCLA’s current roster, only three – goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy, midfielder Maricarmen Reyes and defender Madelyn Desiano – were part of the team facing off against North Carolina in the previous matchup between the two teams in 2018.

Brzykcy – who made four saves against North Carolina and matched a career-best nine saves against Duke – said she is excited to see the payoff from winning while also having the team implement new strategies from the coaches.

“I feel like from the trust we have in our coaches, and obviously our team, it really helped us with that momentum,” Brzykcy said. “And I’m super excited for the rest of the season.”

Sophomore forward Lexi Wright – who scored the equalizing goal against North Carolina – said the Bruins are looking forward to their upcoming match.

“We definitely are wanting to have the same mindset – keep the foot on the gas pedal, not let up,” Wright said.

Last year, the Bruins shut out the Titans and scored three goals in the contest, with two coming from returning players in Reyes and sophomore defender Quincy McMahon. UCLA had 8 shots on goal, while Fullerton had two – both of which were blocked by Brzykcy to preserve the clean sheet.

Aozasa said she hopes this upcoming game is another learning opportunity for the Bruins as they get set to take on the rest of the season.

“Every single game we go into, it’s a question of kind of which team is going to adjust or whether the teams will adjust,” Aozasa said. “In this game, we’re hoping to be a little more in the driver’s seat, worry a little bit more about us and kind of focus on the things that maybe we didn’t do so well against UNC and Duke.”

UCLA will kick off against Fullerton on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Wallis Annenberg Stadium.

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Cecilia Schmitz
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