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UCLA women’s soccer falls to USC, misses shot at Pac-12 title

The UCLA women’s soccer team walks off the field after losing its rivalry contest Friday. The loss is the Bruins’ second of the season after losing to Stanford on Oct. 14. (Jeremy Chen/Assistant Photo editor)

Women’s Soccer

No. 1 UCLA0
No. 14 USC2

By Isabelle Friedman

Nov. 4, 2022 5:29 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 6 at 10:36 p.m.

The fate of the Pac-12 title rested on two California rivalry games Friday.

The Bruins kicked off against the Trojans at 2 p.m., and the Cardinal were set to face the Golden Bears just an hour later in the Bay Area.

But despite going into Friday tied with Stanford at the top of the Pac-12 leaderboard, No. 1 UCLA women’s soccer (17-2, 9-2 Pac-12) fell just one game short of a conference championship. The blue and gold suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of No. 14 USC (12-2-3, 8-1-2) at McAlister Field, while on the other side of the state, Stanford defeated California to clinch the Pac-12 championship.

Coach Margueritte Aozasa said the loss stung. 

“Soccer is cruel sometimes,” Aozasa said. “We tell our team all the time, ‘You lose it, you own it.’”

But Aozasa added that the team is made of perfectionists, and a 17-2 record is still something the blue and gold should be proud of, especially considering the Bruins’ rigorous schedule. 

“And so we told them, ‘Be proud of yourselves. Learn from today and then close that chapter because playoffs start on Monday, and it is a new season,’” Aozasa said. 

Fourteen minutes into the matchup, USC had its chance and took it. 

Capitalizing on their second corner kick in two minutes, the Trojans aimed the ball toward the goal only for a failed header to send it right back out. But after quickly recovering the ball, USC directed it straight back in toward defender Kaylin Martin – who was stationed right in front of the goal. 

“From the start of the game, we didn’t come out how we wanted to, and against a good team, that’s hard to come back from,” said sophomore defender Quincy McMahon.

From there, it was an uphill battle for the Bruins. Martin slid the ball right by graduate student goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy. The sixth-year Bruin veteran had, up until then, only allowed seven goals on the season, and the score marked Martin’s first goal of the season. 

Aozasa said defending against set pieces has been a challenge for the Bruins all season, and the blue and gold are going to make sure they never let another get in.

“It (set piece goals) has been the bane of my existence,” Aozasa said. “What can’t happen is where we focus on it so much that it makes it a bigger thing than it is. … We’re going to fix it, don’t you worry. We’re going to fix it. That’ll be the last one we give up.”

By the half, the Trojans collected six corners to the Bruins’ two. Such set pieces proved to be the Bruins’ downfall when, 15 minutes later after having fallen behind 1-0 in the 15th minute, Brzykcy and the Bruins were put to the test yet again.

A UCLA handball in the 29th minute granted USC a penalty kick, and although Brzykcy guessed correctly by diving right, defender/midfielder Zoe Burns sent the ball just above the goalkeeper to find the back of the net. The blue and gold was down 2-0, a deficit they had yet to face thus far this season. 

USC had another set piece opportunity with a 38th-minute free kick, but Brzykcy successfully protected the net to keep the Trojans’ lead at 2-0. 

By the end of the half, the Bruins had accumulated seven fouls and two yellow cards compared to three fouls for the Trojans. Junior forward Reilyn Turner tallied her own yellow card when a collision sent a Trojan flying in the air.

Junior forward Reilyn Turner fouls an opposing player. Turner is currently tied with junior forward Sunshine Fontes as leading scorer of the team after accumulating nine goals this season. (Anika Chakrabarti/Photo editor)

Freshman midfielder Ally Lemos said the Bruins demonstrated a change in attitude after the half, but it wasn’t enough.

“We came out with more charisma in the second half,” Lemos said. “If we probably got a little bit more time, who knows what would have happened? But I think those changes helped. I just think we needed to make them a little bit quicker.”

Despite putting up three shots in the second half, UCLA was ultimately unable to mount a comeback. The Bruins remained scoreless and fell to their crosstown rivals for the first time in seven years.

Lemos acknowledged that despite the sting of missing out on the Pac-12 title, the best teams play even better off a loss, and the upcoming tournament is what they will be focusing on moving forward.

“Pac-12 is over with. Our real season starts now,” Lemos 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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