UCLA Women's Soccer: #4 Bruins Host #10 BYU Cougars
This game features two teams that went deep into the postseason last year and have high postseason aspirations in 2020-2021. Let the fireworks begin!
The #4 UCLA women’s soccer team (1-0-0) will play its first home game of the new season tonight in a 5 pm PT match versus #10 BYU (1-0-0) at Wallis Annenberg Stadium. Both teams are coming off wins in their respective season openers, with the Bruins besting Pepperdine in Malibu on Sunday, by the score of 3-0, and the Cougars mauling their rivals, the Utah Utes, 5-1 last Saturday.
Last Time Out
UCLA traveled to Malibu last Sunday and controlled the first half of the game versus the Waves, with three goals by sophomore Mia Fishel (8’), freshman Reilyn Turner (22’), and redshirt senior Jacey Pederson (30’), who missed all of last year with an injury.
A special shout out goes to senior midfielder Marley Canales, who assisted on all three goals. Canales tore her ACL midseason last year and, if Sunday was any indication, it appears that she has returned in fine form.
Indeed, the Bruins were cruising and looked to be in control the entire first half, outshooting the Waves 7-3. But it was a different story in the second half.
UCLA only mustered three more shots on goal, with only one on frame. At the other end of the pitch, while UCLA did not ultimately concede a goal, Pepperdine consistently hounded UCLA in the final third, getting 10 shots.
But UCLA goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy had the best game of her college career, after only getting into 14 games in her first two seasons as a Bruin playing behind entrenched starter Teagan Micah. Brzykcy especially stepped up big in the second half, saving six shots on frame, a few of which were of the spectacular variety. I said in my post-game comments to that article that Brzykcy was my woman of the match, and the Pac-12 agreed, naming Brzykcy Goalkeeper of the Week.
One potential down note in the Pepperdine game was that UCLA midfielder Viviana Villacorta went down with an injury and did not return. Our thoughts are with her and we hope she is able to return to the pitch soon. Villacorta was drafted in the first round of the NWSL Draft by the Orlando Pride but, due to COVID-19 and the effect it had on college soccer this season, Villacorta had the option to play out her college career at UCLA before reporting to the Pride, which she chose to do.
Although they only made it to the “final eight” of the NCAA Tournament in the 2019 season, losing to eventual champions Stanford in Palo Alto, the Cougars had a legitimately spectacular campaign, going 21-1-1, with only the loss to Stanford and the tie to Southern Cal blemishing their otherwise perfect record. BYU scored 81 goals in 23 games, while only conceding 15, and unheard of goal differential of plus 66. By comparison, UCLA, a “final four” team, scored 53 goals and conceded 20, a plus 33 goal differential.
The 2020-2021 iteration of BYU Women’s soccer returns only four starters from that team, however, and had seven seniors graduate. The Cougars are confident that they are simply reloading this season, not rebuilding.
One of those returning players that BYU will built around is the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, Mikayla Colohan, a senior midfielder who scored 16 goals and assisted on seven more in 2019. She is dangerous, to say the least, and UCLA will need to keep close tabs on her. Another player to watch out for is senior forward Cameron Tucker, who scored 12 goals and tallied nine assists last season.
Senior Cassidy Smith will take over goalkeeping duties for the Cougars. Smith has had an injured-plagued career at BYU, playing in only 12 games with four starts before this season, and will be taking over for Sabrina Smith, who started and played in 22 of BYU’s 23 games last year.
Although the Bruins scored three goals against a Pepperdine team that has now dropped out of the top 25 with the loss, the win didn’t seem convincing as the Waves outplayed the Bruins in the second half. It took a Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week performance by Brzycky to keep a clean sheet and preserve the 3-0 score line. None of the Waves ten second half shots found the back of the net and Brzykcy “stood on her head,” to borrow a hockey phrase.
The Bruins now face a tougher BYU team (albeit at home), and need to clean up some issues on the backline and the defensive midfield, while at the same time trying to neutralize two excellent scoring and assisting players in Colohan and Tucker. I think that Coach Cromwell and the Bruins will be up to the task, but I predict that this game’s score line will be much, much closer than Sunday’s. I still predict a Bruin win though, by the score of 2-1.
#4 UCLA Women’s Soccer (1-0-0)
Opponent: #10 BYU Cougars (1-0-0)
Game Time: 5:00 pm PT, Friday, February 12, 2021
Where: Wallis Annenberg Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Live TV/Audio: None
Live Stream: Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
This is your UCLA women’s soccer versus BYU game thread.