Rival USC Shuts Out UCLA Women’s Soccer in Regular Season Finale
The Bruins fell in the crosstown showdown and wound up losing their grip on the Pac-12 championship.
For the first time in three years, the Bruins will not end the year with the conference crown.
No. 1 UCLA women’s soccer (17-2-0, 9-2-0 Pac-12) suffered just its second loss of the season Friday, as USC (12-2-3, 8-1-2 Pac-12) came out with the 2-0 win in the regular season finale. Meanwhile, up in the Bay, Stanford took care of business against its own rival, Cal, drawing 1-1 to lock up the Pac-12 championship.
Had the Cardinal – who were responsible for the Bruins’ first loss of the year – lost in Berkeley, UCLA still could have earned a share of the conference title. That did not come to pass, however, and the early two-goal deficit in Los Angeles prevented the Bruins from celebrating anything on Friday.
Getting a win at USC was always going to be a tall task, given that the Trojans had lost just one match since Aug. 19. USC had also scored multiple goals in back-to-back games entering the finale, pitting their red-hot attack against a UCLA defense that had allowed just one goal in its previous eight outings.
The Trojans got on the board first, scoring off a corner kick in the 15th minute.
The first ball sent into the box got headed out, only for USC to track it down and find a player in space immediately after. Forward Kayla Colbert gathered the reset pass, then crossed one right back in front of the net.
Sophomore defender Lilly Reale and junior midfielder MacKenzee Vance were both marking the Trojan who attempted to head it in, but she whiffed and the ball made its way to a wide open defender Kaylin Martin.
Martin settled it off her chest, which prompted graduate goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy to charge out at her, but she snuck it in for the goal regardless.
UCLA had a chance to tie it up in the 23rd minute, but Reale’s low shot was saved. In the 29th minute, the Bruins got whistled for a hand ball in the box, paving the way for the Trojans to double their lead.
Defender Zoe Burns converted on the penalty kick to make it 2-0, putting the Bruins in the biggest hole they faced all season.
USC did not shut down its attack, despite the comfortable advantage, instead continuing to apply pressure on UCLA on both ends of the field.
The Trojans attempted more shots in both halves, and earned eight corner kicks compared to the Bruins’ four. Those chances deep in UCLA territory gave USC more opportunities to pepper Brzykcy with shots, and the veteran keeper made three in the 51st minute alone.
Whether the attempts were coming from long range or point blank, Brzykcy had the reflexes and range to shut the Trojans out for the final 60 minutes, but she couldn’t erase the goals that were already on the scoreboard.
Senior forward Sunshine Fontes had the best chance to cut the deficit in half, sending a shot low and to the right in the 81st minute, but it was turned away. That was the only shot on target the Bruins had the entire second half.
UCLA also played the more physical match, getting called for 14 fouls while USC only picked up four. Freshman forward Bridgett Marin-Valencia and junior forward Reilyn Turner were both given yellow cards for unsporting in the first half as well.
The Trojans finished the afternoon with 13 shots, 10 of which went on net. The Bruins attempted 10, but only had five go towards the net. Goalkeeper Anna Smith saved each and every one of the attempts, too, giving her 17 saves in her last three appearances.
As a result, UCLA was shut out for just the second time all season, and they lost by multiple goals for the first time since Dec. 6, 2019 against Stanford in the College Cup, which was 55 games ago.
The Bruins will now wait to see where their postseason journey will take them, with the NCAA tournament selection show set for Monday at 12:30 p.m. PT.
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PHOTO COURTESY OF SOFIA MCMASTER/UCLA ATHLETICS