UCLA Women’s Soccer Starts Season With Match Against Long Beach State
Soccer News: Preseason No. 4 UCLA (21-1-2 in 2014) opens the 2015 season at Long Beach State (8-7-6 in 2014) on Friday, Aug. 21 at 7pm. The match will take place at George Allen Field on the Long Beach State campus.
Following Friday’s opener, the Bruins will travel to San Diego (10-8-2 in 2014) to take on the Toreros on Sunday, Aug. 23 at 5pm at Torero Stadium.
UCLA advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals a year ago, losing its only match of the year to Virginia, 2-1. The loss snapped a 44-match unbeaten streak that was not only a school record but the sixth-longest unbeaten streak in NCAA history.
UCLA returns two starters from last season’s historic team – forward Taylor Smith and midfielder Annie Alvarado. Smith started all 24 games last year and ranked third on the team in scoring with 24 points (9g, 6a). Alvarado started in 23 of 24 games (missing only on Senior Day) and recorded a goal (the game-winner against Stanford) and two assists.
The Bruins are not, however, without a large group of experienced players. Nine of this year’s team members played in at least 15 games last year – Smith, Alvarado, Darian Jenkins, Zoey Goralski, Kodi Lavrusky, MacKenzie Cerda, Gabbi Miranda, Lauren Kaskie and Kristian Konkol-Mroczkowski. Additionally, Courtney Proctor, who played in 24 games in 2013, returns after missing most of 2014 with injuries. Seven of the aforementioned players were important contributors on UCLA’s NCAA Championship squad in 2013, with Jenkins earning All-America honors that season, Smith scoring the game-winning goal in double overtime at North Carolina to send the Bruins to the College Cup, and Lavrusky scoring the championship-winning goal in the final.
Seven of the Bruin starters last year are now playing professionally (Abby Dahlkemper, Caprice Dydasco, Sarah Killion, Sam Mewis, Megan Oyster and Katelyn Rowland in the NWSL and Rosie White in the FA WSL).
UCLA in Season Openers
UCLA is 16-5-1 all-time in season openers and has won the last five consecutive openers. This is UCLA’s first time opening on the road since 2012, when the Bruins defeated UMass, 2-1.
In the Rankings
UCLA begins the season ranked No. 4 in the NSCAA preseason rankings. The Bruins finished the 2014 season ranked No. 5. Top Drawer Soccer has the Bruins ranked No. 7.
UCLA plays one of the toughest schedules in the nation, with 14 matches scheduled against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago, including national runner-up Virginia, College Cup participant Stanford and 22-time NCAA champion North Carolina.
Bruins Picked to Finish 2nd in Pac-12
The two-time defending Pac-12 champion Bruins have been picked to finish second in the conference in the preseason coaches poll. The Bruins received three first place votes and finished just three points behind conference favorite Stanford, who received eight first-place votes.
Scouting the 49ers
Long Beach State is coming off an 8-7-6 2014 campaign in which it advanced to the Big West Tournament championship match before falling to Cal State Fullerton, 2-1. The 49ers return 2014 Big West Goalkeeper of the Year Ashton McKeown (0.80 GAA, 9 shutouts) and leading scorer Ashley Gonzales (9g, 2a, 20 points). UCLA is 3-0 all-time against Long Beach State, with the last meeting coming in 2009, a 4-0 road win for the Bruins.
Scouting the Toreros
San Diego finished the 2014 season with a 10-8-2 record. Two of those losses came to UCLA, who posted a 2-0 regular season win on Aug. 31 and a 5-0 NCAA first round win on Nov. 14. UCLA holds an all-time record of 18-1-5 against the Toreros. Among the returners for San Diego are Jacqueline Altschuld, who earned NSCAA All-Region honors and led the Toreros in scoring last year with 13 points (5g, 3a), and All-WCC midfielder Nikki Pappalardo, who led the team with 10 assists.
Taylor Smith on Watch List
Senior forward Taylor Smith has been named to the 2015 MAC Hermann Watch List. Smith is a two-time All-Pac-12 honoree and 2014 All-Region selection. She has scored 20 or more points in each of her three seasons at UCLA and has 25 goals and 70 points in her career. In 2014, she started all 24 games and tied for second on the team in goals scored (9) and game-winning goals (4) and ranked third in points (23). In 2013, she ranked second on the team in goals (8), assists (11) and points (26) and earned first-team All-Pac-12 acclaim. Smith scored the memorable golden goal in double overtime in the NCAA quarterfinals to defeat No. 1 seed North Carolina en route to the Bruins’ first national championship. As a freshman, she earned selection to the Pac-12 and Top Drawer Soccer All-Freshman teams after ranking second on the team in goals (8), game-winning goals (3) and points (20).
A member of the U.S. Under-23 National Team, Smith helped lead the U-23s to the Four Nations Tournament title in June, scoring the game-winning goal in the team’s final match against England.
Bruin Players Recognized by Top Drawer Soccer
Two Bruins are on Top Drawer Soccer’s preseason Top 100 list – No. 29 Taylor Smith and No. 91 Annie Alvarado. Smith is also on their preseason Best XI third team, while freshman Inga Bakken was named to their freshman team.
UCLA plays its first home match of the season on Sunday, Aug. 30 against No. 14 Wisconsin. The match will take place at 4pm at Marshall Field at Drake Stadium and will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks. Prior to the match, the two teams will honor the late Dee Schmidt, mother of UCLA’s Madison Tye and Wisconsin’s Alexis Tye.
The following week, on Friday, Sept. 4, UCLA takes on No. 2 Virginia in a rematch of last year’s NCAA quarterfinals, which the Cavaliers won, 2-1.
Bruins on Pac-12 Networks
UCLA will have a conference-leading 12 games televised on the Pac-12 Networks, beginning with its home opener against Wisconsin on Aug. 30 and concluding with the final regular season contest against USC on Nov. 6.
UCLA Head Coach Amanda Cromwell
Soccer America’s National Coach of the Year Amanda Cromwell returns for her third season in Westwood. One would be hard-pressed to find a coach who made as big of an impact in her first two seasons as Cromwell. Eight months after being hired on Apr. 12, 2013 as the fifth head coach in UCLA women’s soccer history, Cromwell led her team to the program’s first-ever NCAA Championship, and her teams have won 43 games with just two losses over two seasons.
With 266 career victories and a .709 winning percentage at the close of the 2014 season, Cromwell currently ranks among the top-15 winningest active coaches and the top-20 all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history.