Ayo Oke scores 1st goal for UCLA women’s soccer in victory over Cal
Senior midfielder Michaela Rosenbaum slides on the grass. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)
|No. 2 UCLA
Oct. 27, 2023 1:58 p.m.
Ayo Oke drove the ball down from midfield and found herself head to head with a familiar face – but not one she was used to playing against.
Just a few months after transferring from California to UCLA this year, the junior defender evaded her former teammate with a spin before sending the ball soaring to the back of the net in the 24th minute.
And after 90 minutes were up, Oke celebrated with her new rivals and current teammates alike.
“They’re a really great team and great people,” Oke said. “It’s really good to see them since I’ve haven’t seen them all year.”
The goal – Oke’s first since joining the Bruins – set the pace for No. 2 UCLA women’s soccer’s (15-1, 9-0 Pac-12) 2-0 victory over California (7-4-6, 4-1-4) on Thursday. The win set the Bruins up with the opportunity to clinch the conference title when they play No. 4 Stanford on Sunday.
Coach Margueritte Aozasa said she was impressed by Oke’s showing against her former team and the resulting goal.
“Ayo was playing with another level today,” Aozasa said. “This was her old team, and she wanted to make a statement and she definitely did that.”
Following Thursday’s home win, UCLA improved to 9-0 in conference play and sit alone at the top of the Pac-12 standings, with Stanford following closely behind after a tie against Washington. If the Bruins defeat the Cardinal on Sunday, the squad will win the Pac-12 title in its final opportunity before the program moves to the Big Ten in 2024.
Aozasa said UCLA being the sole team with only conference wins is a huge accomplishment in and of itself, especially given its difficult away schedule.
“It’d be awesome to do it at home in the swan song of the Pac-12,” Aozasa said. “That will be nice and also just kind of help us prepare for playoffs.”
Just eight minutes after Oke opened the scoring, senior midfielder Michaela Rosenbaum doubled her team’s lead on a shot from the corner of the penalty box with an assist from freshman forward Taylor Cheatham.
In her first career start of the season, Rosenbaum played all 90 minutes Thursday. She said ending her senior year with a conference title would be a special capstone on her career.
Aozasa added that Rosenbaum deserved her flowers for Thursday’s outing.
“Really proud of her because we needed her to step up today, not just with a goal but also with 90 minutes, and she did that very well,” Aozasa said.
Beyond the reunions seen on Thursday when UCLA welcomed Cal, another will happen Sunday when when it hosts Stanford.
Aozasa joined the Bruins’ coaching staff last year after seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Cardinal.
Familiar with the Stanford program, Aozasa said her team’s next opponent is going to be a difficult but a good test to see how UCLA responds.
“That staff, those players, that program – obviously means so much to me, so I’m looking forward to it,” Aozasa said. “But at the end of the day, we do want to beat them, but it’ll be it’ll be a wonderful game. I’m happy to host them.”
The Bruins will return to Wallis Annenberg Stadium on Sunday at noon when they take on the Cardinal with the Pac-12 title theirs for the taking.