Battle of the Undefeateds: #4 UCLA Bruins Head to Tucson to Face the Wildcats
UCLA will look to reverse recent history in Tucson where they have not beaten Arizona since the 2014 season.
The #4 UCLA women’s soccer team (3-0-0) begins Pac-12 play today with a road contest against the undefeated, but unranked, Arizona Wildcats (4-0-0). Kickoff is at 5 pm PT. It has been ten days since the Bruins last played a match, a 3-0 win versus San Diego. UCLA has only allowed one goal all season, an attempted Bruin clearance that ricocheted off an opponent and into the net. So, suffice to say, the UCLA defense has been very solid through three games. We will see if that holds up against a Wildcat team that has scored 13 goals in four games on the season.
Last Time Out
On Tuesday, February 16th, the Bruins handled the University of San Diego Toreros at Wallis Annenberg Stadium, winning comfortably, 3-0. The Bruins went up relatively early on an 18th minute goal by freshman Reilyn Turner, who continues to have a huge impact for the Bruins on the offensive end, with two goals and two assists on the season.
Olivia Athens extended UCLA’s lead in the 36th minute. It was a nice moment for the senior, who had not scored since the 2018 season, playing only four games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury.
The Bruins put the game away in the 75th minute on freshman Sunshine Fontes’ second goal of the year. Fontes previously scored the game-winner against BYU and, like Turner, is having a major impact for the Bruins as a freshman so far this season.
The Bruins outshot the Toreros 19 to 4 with UCLA putting four shots on frame to USD’s one shot on frame. Thus, UCLA goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy recorded her second clean sheet of the season, but only had to make one save to do so.
Arizona made the postseason last year and won its first contest in the tournament, before falling to Penn State 4-3 in overtime in the round of 32. The ‘Cats went 12-7-1 in 2019, but easily handled the Bruins in Tucson, prevailing 3-0. Arizona will look for a similar performance against UCLA today.
A couple of senior forwards, Jill Aguilera and Jada Talley, have led the Wildcats so far this season with four and three goals, respectively. Each has also bagged an assist. Aguilera recorded a brace in Arizona’s 2-0 win versus UTEP this season. Talley had a brace against UCLA in 2019. UCLA will need to keep close tabs on both of these senior ‘Cats.
In addition to the UTEP win, the Wildcats also have victories over Grand Canyon, New Mexico State, and Northern Arizona. None of those games were close. Like UCLA, Arizona has only conceded a goal once this season — in their season opener versus Grand Canyon, a 4-1- victory.
Sophomore Hope Hisey has been in goal for Arizona in 343 of its 360 minutes played this campaign. She was instrumental in the Wildcats success last season, starting in all of Arizona’s Pac-12 games and postseason games as a freshman and earning 2019 All-Conference All-Freshman team honors. Hisey made four saves against the Bruins last season, earning the clean sheet. Hisey has made eight saves and allowed only one goal so far in the 2020-2021 campaign, and is expected to start against the Bruins today.
This is a very interesting game. The Bruins are the better team on paper, but recent history shows that UCLA struggles on this trip. Case in point: UCLA has not beaten the Wildcats in Tucson since October 2014. That is saying a lot, especially taking into consideration the caliber of UCLA’s women’s soccer program and the great players who played their careers at UCLA without a win in Tucson.
Head Coach Amanda Cromwell should have the team especially motivated for today’s match, looking to reverse the trend over the last several years. While UCLA is getting major contributions from freshman, Arizona is led by two, experienced senior forwards.
Based on talent alone, I am torn between a draw and a narrow UCLA win in today’s game, but am going to give the benefit of the doubt (no doubt due to my homerism) to the Bruins, who I predict will win in close fashion, similar to the BYU win earlier this year, by the score of 2-1. It could easily go the other way, though.
#4 UCLA Women’s Soccer (3-0-0)
Opponent: Arizona Wildcats (4-0-0)
Game Time: 5:00 pm PT, Friday, February 26, 2021
Where: Mulcahy Soccer Stadium, Tucson, AZ
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 Arizona Wildcats game thread.