UCLA women’s soccer cuts down Lumberjacks, advances in NCAA tournament
Sophomore forward Lexi Wright dribbles the ball towards the goal. Wright scored two of the Bruins four goals Friday to defeat the Lumberjacks in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. (Jake Greenberg-Bell/Daily Bruin)
|No. 1 UCLA||4|
By Jay Fenn
Nov. 11, 2022 9:44 p.m.
This post was updated Nov. 13 at 11:45 p.m.
Last season, UCLA entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed and was defeated in the first round.
This year, the blue and gold started its postseason a little differently.
After not finding the back of the net in 90 minutes against the Anteaters in 2021, it took the Bruins 39 seconds to get on the board Friday night.
Nearly a year after falling to UC Irvine in the opening round, No. 1 seed UCLA women’s soccer (18-2, 9-2 Pac-12) left no doubt when it defeated Northern Arizona University (10-6-4, 7-1 Big Sky) 4-1 at Wallis Annenberg Stadium. The win catapults the Bruins into the second round of the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in seven years.
Coach Margueritte Aozasa said it was reassuring to see the blue and gold impose its offensive will early after being shut out last week against the Trojans and in their lone postseason game last season.
“It (the early goal) was a great weight off our shoulders,” Aozasa said. “One, after not scoring last weekend and obviously, I think in the very back of everybody’s mind was last year – to get out on such a strong front foot just set the tone for us the rest of the game.”
In its lone loss last season, UCLA tallied 19 shots against the Anteaters but could not score with any of them. Sophomore forward Lexi Wright flipped the script Friday, burying the blue and gold’s first shot of the game in the back of the net before the clock even struck one minute.
Wright said the Bruins were excited to get postseason play underway coming into the game and were not too focused on last season’s results.
“It (the feeling) was more excitement and kind of fuel to the fire, especially how we ended last year,” Wright said. “We just wanted to come out and make a statement in this game, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Wright didn’t stop there. Eight minutes later, the forward put UCLA up 2-0 with her second goal of the match and seventh of the season.
In the 40th minute, sophomore midfielder Emma Egizii took a pass from freshman midfielder Ally Lemos and tallied the first goal of her collegiate career to bring the Bruins’ lead to 3-0. Egizii missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury 10 minutes into the first game of the 2021 season.
Egizii said she was grateful to share the moment with her teammates.
“I’m just happy honestly. I thought I’d be more emotional, but it was just fun,” Egizii said. “Those are things we do in practice and being able to do it in a game and show everybody what we can do, that’s the best part.”
UCLA entered the half with a commanding three-goal lead and collected 18 shots compared to Northern Arizona’s two. Thirteen of the Bruins’ shots were on goal, which is tied for the second-most shots on goal the blue and gold has registered in a game all season.
UCLA’s next opponent will be determined in the results of Sunday’s first-round match between UCF and NC State.
Aozasa said that as the Bruins push forward into the postseason, they will continue to look at small things they can improve on as they chase the second national championship in program history.
“Once we get to the postseason, it’s all about refining things,” Aozasa said. “In the second half, there were moments we could go forward, our decision making was a little off, and then obviously our finishing, we want to continue to work on that.”