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No. 1 UCLA women’s soccer defends perfect record with late goal against Arizona

Senior forward Sunshine Fontes drives the ball through the defense. Fontes scored the Bruins’ lone goal Sunday in their contest against Arizona.(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

By Isabelle Friedman

Oct. 10, 2022 12:06 a.m.

Stuck in deadlock 82 minutes in, the Bruins’ afternoon at Wallis Annenberg Stadium nearly turned gloomy – until they saw a ray of sunshine.

“Sunshine was shining down on us today (Sunday),” said coach Margueritte Aozasa.

Courtesy of senior forward Sunshine Fontes’ 83rd-minute goal against Arizona (4-6-2, 1-4 Pac-12), No. 1 UCLA women’s soccer’s (13-0, 5-0) saved its winning streak Sunday. The narrow home victory keeps the Bruins undefeated and at the top of the Pac-12 rankings.

Arizona, on the other hand, entered the week unranked and on a three-game losing streak – yet it managed to take down No. 8 USC on the other side of town Thursday. Hoping to complete their Los Angeles road trip with a win over the top team in the country, the Wildcats came a little too close for the Bruins’ liking.

“Today (Sunday) was (an) ugly win,” Aozasa said.

The last time UCLA was scoreless at halftime was more than a month ago when the blue and gold took on then-No. 1 North Carolina. The Bruins eventually managed to find two goals against the Tar Heels but couldn’t manage the same feat against the Wildcats on Sunday.

Fontes said it was nerve-wracking for the top-ranked Bruins to be shut out at the half.

“I kept looking at the clock,” Fontes said. “When I got subbed back in, I was like, ‘Fifteen more minutes. All out. We’re not going to save anything, so let’s just go for it.’”

Despite leading in shots at the half, the matchup had the crowd on its toes.

Graduate student goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy’s attempted dive against an Arizona shot in the 53rd minute was met with silence. But a hit to the goalpost kept the Wildcats off the board.

Saves, blocks and missed shots continued to tally up, but UCLA managed to turn the tides eventually with less than 10 minutes to play.

A quick steal from freshman midfielder Ally Lemos gave the Bruins possession, but an assist from graduate student forward Ally Cook was all Fontes needed to send the ball flying from the top of the penalty arc to the back of the net.

Facing its first draw in 16 matches, UCLA managed to sneak a goal on the board.

For Fontes, UCLA’s leading scorer this season, the goal couldn’t have come any sooner.

“Relieved would be a great word for it,” Fontes said.

Despite eking out a win, Aozasa said her squad struggled with matching the Wildcats’ level of physicality.

“I was not impressed with our competitiveness and just our pride,” Aozasa said. “We got bullied. And we know that in order to be successful, that can’t happen.”

Brzykcy echoed Aozasa’s thoughts and noted that the blue and gold could have been more aggressive with first and second balls.

“We just need to be a little harder on each tackle. I feel like sometimes they’re getting the first hit, and we were just a little startled,” Brzykcy said.

Despite the lack of national or conference recognition for the Wildcats, Fontes said the Bruins knew not to take Arizona lightly, especially after its showing against USC.

Likewise, Brzykcy said every team is going to be a tough opponent for the Bruins, and they need to be on their A-game every game.

“We have a bit of a target on our back from being No. 1 in the nation right now, and I feel like every team is going to play their best game against us,” Brzykcy said.

Last season, Arizona snapped UCLA’s eight-game shutout streak, and although the Bruins didn’t see their winning streak broken by the Wildcats, they walked away from Sunday’s matchup with lessons learned for the season ahead.

“I don’t think we’re good enough today (Sunday),” Aozasa said.

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Isabelle Friedman | Editor in chief
Friedman is the 2023-2024 editor in chief. She was previously the Copy chief and a slot editor and has also contributed to Sports on the women's golf, women's soccer and gymnastics beats. Friedman is a fourth-year public affairs student.
Friedman is the 2023-2024 editor in chief. She was previously the Copy chief and a slot editor and has also contributed to Sports on the women's golf, women's soccer and gymnastics beats. Friedman is a fourth-year public affairs student.
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