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UCLA women’s soccer picks up third consecutive shutout with win over Pepperdine

Junior defender Quincy McMahon prepares to strike the ball. (Mattias de los Rios Rogers/Daily Bruin)

Women's Soccer

No. 5 UCLA2

By Cecilia Schmitz

Sept. 16, 2023 12:41 p.m.

Friday evening’s shivers mimicked UCLA leaving Pepperdine’s side of the scoreboard cold.

No. 5 UCLA women’s soccer (6-1) defeated Pepperdine (2-2-5) on Friday at home by a score of 2-0 – its third consecutive shutout and fifth of the season. Ahead of Pac-12 play commencing next week, the Waves were the Bruins’ final nonconference opponent of the season.

Before the game even began, the Bruins displayed their camaraderie.

The match’s starting lineup featured senior defender Jordyn Gather. However, she was replaced on the field by sophomore forward Bridgette Marin-Valencia only moments after the starting whistle blew.

Coach Margueritte Aozasa said Gather was given an honorary start after being riddled with injury throughout her soccer career.

“Tonight we wanted to give her (Gather) an honorary start so that she has the opportunity to be on the field, be in the jersey, under the lights, kind of the whole deal,” Aozasa said. “So that’s what we did – kind of made it a special moment for her.”

And as the starting 11 set foot on the pitch, the match was underway.

The Bruins were aggressive offensively from the first minutes of the game.

Senior forward Reilyn Turner nearly scored a goal right out of the gate in the second minute in a nearly-empty box, but was thwarted at the last moment by Pepperdine goalkeeper Taylor Rath.

UCLA continued to dominate Pepperdine in the attack, resulting in a 25-2 shot ratio. Regardless, the Bruins remained scoreless in the first half.

“It’s just a little frustrating because we’re creating really, really quality chances and sometimes it’s the last thing to kind of come together and fall to places,” Aozasa said.

In the 54th minute, UCLA finally struck after more than 10 shots made.

Junior defender Quincy McMahon ignited the Bruin offense, crossing inside to the box to take a pass from graduate student midfielder/forward Sunshine Fontes.

McMahon said the goal was the result of work in prior practices.

“The ball got switched to me, which we’ve been building on and working through all this week in practice and knowing that those spaces were on,” McMahon said. “When I took that touch inside seeing one other person to cover, I knew that I had the opportunity to take that shot.”

Less than 10 minutes later, the Bruins put up another point.

Forward Val Vargas blasted the shot more than 20 yards from the net to mark her second career goal with the Bruins.

The freshman said her goal happened in a flash.

“We were connecting very well. We were getting into our rhythm, and it just happened,” Vargas said.

A rocket that richocheted off the crossbar and a free kick that sidelined a Pepperdine player handed Fontes her final two shots of the night.

However, the score remained 2-0 for the rest of the match.

In recent matches, the Bruins have exhibited a pattern of a high-shot-to-low-goal ratio.

McMahon emphasized the team’s efforts in staying motivated to convert shots on goal.

“We always just talk about how important it is to keep going because we know that we’re going to get another opportunity, and the ones you miss really don’t matter,” McMahon said. “We talked about that a lot of halftime, encouraging one another to keep going.”

With the Bruins now turning their sights toward the conference slate, Aozasa said the match against the Waves marked important practice and experience for the team.

“It was probably one of our best performances by far and a very good game from start to finish,” Aozasa said. “So it’s kind of what we hoped for in terms of game momentum going into conference.”

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Cecilia Schmitz
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