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UCLA women’s soccer secures shutout against Washington State

Junior forward Lexi Wright battles with Georgia defender Kiera Staude for possession. Wright scored UCLA women’s soccer’s first goal against Washington State on Sunday. (Daily Bruin file photo)

Women's Soccer

No. 5 UCLA2
No. 22 Washington State0

By Lori Garavartanian

Oct. 1, 2023 8:35 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 1 at 9:50 p.m.

With the ball at her feet just outside the box, Lexi Wright pulled her leg back.

Her momentum caused her to slip, but not before launching the ball towards the goal. From the ground, Wright witnessed her shot sail over Cougars’ goalkeeper Nadia Cooper and fall into the back of the net.

The junior forward’s goal in the 13th minute got the Bruins on the board early in the first half, giving No. 5 UCLA’s women’s soccer (9-1, 3-0 Pac-12) the lead it wouldn’t relinquish to propel it to a win against No. 22 Washington State (7-4, 0-3) on Sunday afternoon.

Wright said her goal was a product of a chance created by a Washington State misplay.

“I just saw my opportunity,” Wright said. “She (The defender) slipped in the corner, and I felt like I had some space to just take the shot.”

UCLA came into Sunday’s game without graduate student midfielder/forward Sunshine Fontes, who is the team’s second-highest goal scorer of the season thus far. Fontes tore her ACL during Thursday’s game against Washington.

Fontes redshirted her freshman season while recovering from an ACL tear she sustained in high school. Coach Margueritte Aozasa said the loss of Fontes is difficult, as she is the spirit of the group. She said that to account for it, the team can allow the depth to show, as they did against Washington State.

Despite the loss of Fontes, UCLA managed to outshoot Washington State to open the game. The Cougars did manage a shot in the 35th minute, but it was blocked by sophomore goalkeeper Neeku Purcell.

In the first half overall, the Bruins had six more shots than the Cougars, who were kept to just four by the Bruins’ defensive front.

Additionally, UCLA was able to force Washington State into committing more fouls, with the Cougars recording seven against the Bruins’ four.

“I thought Washington State can be super direct and really physical, and I thought we managed that well,” Aozasa said. “It was always about matching their physicality, matching the intensity, but then also trying to limit the chance for fouls by keeping the ball and maintaining a rhythm.”

Two fouls in the 43rd minute halted the Cougars’ progress to end the first half, allowing the Bruins to retain their 1-0 lead.

UCLA recorded more shots and fouls in the second half, ending the game with a 12-shot lead and one fewer foul. The difference in shots led to a second Bruin goal in the 70th minute, this time by graduate student forward Ally Cook.

Scoring her seventh goal of the season, Cook converted on an assist from Wright to put the Bruins up 2-0. After the cross came in from Wright, Cook curved the ball into the net with her right foot despite a deflection from Cooper.

Cook said cohesion on the offense has led to success.

“I think our connection within our forwards and our attacking system has just improved game after game,” said Cook when asked about this recent run of form. “It’s just knowing the tendencies of players on the ball and what I need to do to get on the ball.”

With the shutout, UCLA extended its conference winning streak to three games and will next face Oregon State on Thursday.

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Lori Garavartanian
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