With tie against Stanford, UCLA women’s soccer secures Pac-12 championship
Members of UCLA women’s soccer raise the Pac-12 trophy in celebration. Despite tying Stanford 1-1, UCLA was able to secure enough conference points to claim the Pac-12 title. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)
|No. 4 Stanford
|No. 2 UCLA
Oct. 29, 2023 3:31 p.m.
UCLA walked off the field in its final conference game in 2022 with two losses, handing the Pac-12 title to Stanford up north.
One year later, as coach Margueritte Aozasa competed against her former program for only the second time at the helm of the Bruins, her team was the one hoisting the trophy.
Because of its otherwise undefeated conference slate, No. 2 UCLA women’s soccer (15-1-1, 9-0-1 Pac-12) still clinched the conference crown for the 14th time despite a 1-1 tie with No. 4 Stanford (14-0-4, 7-0-3) on Sunday. The game occurred in a crowd of over 2,000 – UCLA’s highest-attended contest all season.
With UCLA heading to the Big Ten next season, senior forward Reilyn Turner said it was good to finish the Bruins’ time in the Pac-12 with a win.
“Feels pretty nice, and it’s nice to be able to come off of last year not winning it,” Turner said. “Being able to make a final statement in the history books.”
Mirroring UCLA’s low-scoring 1-0 loss to Stanford in 2022, the game got off to a slow start.
The first half consisted of 10 shots split between the two programs – UCLA with six, Stanford holding four. But on every occasion, neither squad could find the back of the net. Sophomore goalkeeper Neeku Purcell recorded one save in the 17th minute, launching herself into the air to secure possession of the ball and preserve the deadlock.
The Bruins made numerous attempts of their own, including a pair of direct shots to Stanford goalkeeper Ryan Campbell from junior defender Quincy McMahon and junior midfielder Emma Egizii, but still headed into the halftime locker room knotted with the Cardinal, 0-0.
Stanford would encounter a close call as graduate student forward Ally Cook attempted to tip the ball in the net after a back-and-forth with the Stanford defense, but narrowly missed the interior of the goal in the 51st minute.
In the 68th minute, the deadlock would end.
But it wouldn’t be for very long.
Sophomore midfielder Sofia Cook launched the ball into the back of the net after an assist from Turner to collect her first goal of the season, putting her team on the board.
Cook said she was thrilled to get her first goal of the season during the contest.
“It felt awesome,” Cook said. “It was a team effort for me, but I was there to finish it.”
Stanford quickly showed it doesn’t like to be behind, as Cardinal midfielder Maya Doms countered with a goal of her own one minute and 23 seconds later to establish another tie at 1-1.
The packed stands grew quieter as the minutes ticked on with the score still knotted at 1-1 in the last 10 minutes, appearing as though UCLA was on the precipice of its first true tie of the Aozasa era.
And despite an additional three shots from the Bruins – two of them from Turner – a tie was ultimately the name of the game with the contest finishing at 1-1, as Aozasa now possessed her own Pac-12 title but was still left without a win over her former program.
Aozasa expressed appreciation for her former team but also noted that with the NCAA tournament just around the corner, the two teams could still face one another again.
“It was wonderful to see them, not just the staff but the players. I feel like Stanford is where I grew up as a coach, so it’s really awesome always to see them,” Aozasa said. “But it’s two good teams, and I wish them all the best in the postseason, and who knows – maybe we’ll see them again.”