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Women’s soccer 2022 NCAA Tournament predictions

The UCLA women’s soccer team celebrates. The Bruins will enter the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed and will face NAU in the first round.(Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

By Grace Whitaker, Isabelle Friedman, Jay Fenn, and Cecilia Schmitz

Nov. 10, 2022 3:50 p.m.

No. 1 seed UCLA women’s soccer (17-2, 9-2 Pac-12) will face Northern Arizona University (10-5-4, 7-1 Big Sky) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Take a look at how DB Sports predicts the events of the tournament to play out.

Grace Whitaker
Assistant Sports Editor
Prediction: Runner Ups to No. 2 North Carolina

Last season, the Bruins were eliminated in the first round.

But this year, they’ve learned from their mistakes.

Having already suffered two losses this season, the Bruins are not strangers to defeats like they were going into last year’s NCAA tournament. After losing the Pac-12 trophy Friday, UCLA will be seeking to avenge its defeats and prove that the No. 1 seed it was awarded is not in vain.

This fire is going to fuel it for at least a few frames.

However, in the semifinals, the Bruins will face their first formidable opponent in No. 1 seed Alabama. While I believe this game will be a nail-biter for the entirety of its 90-minute duration, I think the Bruins can pull off a slim 1-0 victory over the Crimson Tide and be placed in the NCAA championship for the first time since 2017. Much like that game five years ago, the Bruins will face a familiar foe.

North Carolina was also a runner up in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was awarded the No. 2 seed in its end of the bracket. This will leave them with the same vengeful spirit as the blue and gold and could drive them straight into the Championship game.

But after the Bruins’ 2-1 defeat over the Tarheels on Sept. 4 stole the top-rank in the country, North Carolina will be ready this time around.

While this year’s team will go farther than last year’s, UCLA will still fall short and find themselves as NCAA runners-up for the first time since 2017.

 

Isabelle Friedman
Daily Bruin senior staff
Prediction: UCLA’s 120th NCAA title

Exactly one year ago, I wrote a guest prediction for the women’s soccer NCAA tournament.

I thought UCLA was going to win the whole thing – given the Bruins’ similarity to the “Ted Lasso” plot, of course.

This time around, I’m a writer on the women’s soccer beat, and after following the team for the entire season, I can confidently say this is not the same team that was eliminated from the NCAA tournament during round one last year.

It’s a better one.

With Pac-12 Coach of the Year Margueritte Aozasa at the helm and a lineup of proven veterans and new talent, the blue and gold is poised for success. They went 17-2 in the regular season and sat at the top of the national rankings for nine weeks straight.

But even more important than its stellar record, UCLA has demonstrated resilience, which is what they’ll going to need to make it through this grueling tournament after its loss to USC on Friday. In fact, the Bruins seem more motivated and confident than ever.

Unlike last season, the blue and gold has already learned how to bounce back from a loss after it fell to Stanford on Oct. 14 and proceeded to outscore its next four opponents 13-0 combined.

The Bruins weren’t scared of Friday’s loss. There was no doubt in their minds that they could recover and play even better this coming week.

I think they’re going to take it all the way.

 

Jay Fenn
Daily Bruin Staff
Prediction: National Champions

Last year, I predicted the Bruins to win the National Championship.

However, as I stood in line waiting to get into the men’s basketball matchup between No. 2 UCLA vs No. 4 Villanova, I stared at the UCLA women’s soccer live stats and watched as the Bruins were crushed by UC Irvine by a score of 1-0.

It’s a new year, and although the blue and gold lost all-American forward Mia Fishel, veteran midfielders Olivia Athens and Marley Canales, and head coach Amanda Cromwell, the Bruins have not missed a beat.

Junior Reilyn Turner and senior Sunshine Fontes have stepped up to fill the offensive void, with the forwards each contributing nine goals apiece and providing a combined 10 assists.

The backline is anchored by graduate student Lauren Brzykcy – one of the best goalkeepers in the country – and a trio of sophomore defenders Lilly Reale, Jayden Perry and Quincy McMahon, whose chemistry drives one of the most elite defenses in the country.

With all of this, UCLA finished the regular season sixth in scoring offense and tied for fifth in goals-against average, with 2.79 and .474, respectively.

Although UCLA finished its regular season with two defeats in its final six games, including a 2-0 loss to USC in the finale, the Bruins have shown all season that they are one of the best teams in the country. They proved they could beat ACC teams when they went to North Carolina and took down then-top-two-seeds North Carolina and Duke.

In Cromwell’s first season at UCLA in 2013, the Bruins won the national championship. What is stopping the blue and gold from winning it all in coach Margueritte Aozasa’s first campaign in Westwood?

If the Bruins can find that spark on offense that they were missing in their two losses to the Cardinal and the Trojans, there is no doubt in my mind that the blue and gold will be national champions when all is said and done.

 

Cecilia Schmitz
Daily Bruin Contributor
Prediction: National Champions

I’m a firm believer in happy endings.

At least I am at the start of every sports season.

Usually I am proven wrong pretty quickly, as seen by the Packers’ sub-par performance without Davante Adams and Germany’s crash-and-burn embarrassment of a World Cup in 2018, both of which dashed my hopes.

But with UCLA women’s soccer this season, I still believe they can win the whole championship.

There’s a reason why the NCAA put them as the No. 1 seed of the tournament; this squad boasts some of the most impressive players in college soccer, with a mix of seasoned experience and fresh blood.

Beginning with powerhouse graduate student goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy, one of the country’s top goalkeepers is backed by a rock-solid line of defense and five seasons with the Bruins already under her belt. The team’s top scorers, senior midfielder/forward Sunshine Fontes and junior forward Reilyn Turner, bring a lethal combination of tactical prowess and speed.

Freshman midfielder Ally Lemos and midfielder/forward Sofia Cook have already made names for themselves, with Lemos bringing strength to the midfield after starting in each game, and Cook trailing only Fontes and Turner for the title of most goals scored on the team.

These players, combined with the program revitalization brought by first year head coach Margueritte Aozasa, gives me the gut feeling that the blue and gold can go all the way this year. After all, this is the team that went to North Carolina as the underdog and came back the number one team in the country after dethroning then-No. 1 UNC and then-No. 2 Duke.

In the past 2 years, UCLA has performed well in the regular season then exited the playoffs early. This year though, with Aozasa at the helm, the Bruins will breeze past the first couple of rounds. Challenges will arise late in the tournament, but this squad will pull through under Aozasa’s guidance, the same leader that helped bring Stanford two national championships.

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Grace Whitaker | Assistant Sports editor
Whitaker is currently an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball and cross country beats. She was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.
Whitaker is currently an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball and cross country beats. She was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.
Isabelle Friedman | Copy chief
Friedman is the 2022-2023 Copy chief and a Sports contributor on the women's soccer beat. She was previously a Slot editor, Copy intern and Sports contributor on the women's golf beat.
Friedman is the 2022-2023 Copy chief and a Sports contributor on the women's soccer beat. She was previously a Slot editor, Copy intern and Sports contributor on the women's golf beat.
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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