USC picked up a huge win against first-ranked UCLA, beating the Bruins 2-0, its first win over them in seven years. The Trojans move to 12-2-3 overall and 8-1-2 in Pac-12 play, while UCLA falls to 17-2-0, 9-2-0.
USC’s win could not have been predicted in the game’s first minutes. Under pressure and a high offensive block from UCLA, the Trojans suffered from multiple ball losses and could not keep a long possession period.
The Bruins, aware of their early superiority, then shot four times in the first 10 minutes, putting the defense and graduate goalkeeper Anna Smith under tight pressure.
The Bruins did not score, and USC did not miss its opportunity to strike first 15 minutes in the game. Sophomore forward Kayla Colbert shot a cross from the right side of the box to redshirt senior defender Kaylin Martin, who, after a chest control, only had to poke it home past the keeper.
After that goal, the energy went up a bar for the Trojans, who continued to have intense activity in the midfield with a game of passes and attacks on the UCLA box. And it paid off a second time.
In the 29th minute, UCLA sophomore defender Lily Reale missed clearing a shot. The ball rebounded on her arm, becoming a handball in the box, giving the Trojans another scoring opportunity. Junior defender Zoe Burns did not miss the chance and buried the penalty in the left corner, giving USC a 2-0 lead.
“I think the key was to ignore that they’re number one in the rankings,” USC head coach Jane Alukonis said after the match, “and just play our game, set the tone and dominate.”
Both offense and defense remained strong, leading to two other scoring chances during the 37th and 38th minutes, both saved by UCLA graduate goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy.
The Trojans kept up their game until halftime with a solid defense — almost entirely neutralizing the Bruin’s offense.
The second period did not see many opportunities for both teams. With a comfortable 2-0 lead, USC did not have to make plays, but the Bruins did not seem in capacity to tear the Trojans’ defense.
Brzykcy made three saves in the 50th and 51st minutes, saving a first shot from sophomore forward Simone Jackson, leading to back-to-back shots off the ensuing corner kick.
Up to the task for a full 90 minutes, the defense only suffered in the last 10 minutes of the game. In the 81st minute, graduate defender Madelyn Desiano shot a retreating center from the right for senior forward Sunshine Fontes.
Left unmarked by two Trojans’ defenders, she adjusted a point-blank shot, but Smith was there to make the save.
The Trojans maintained their defense until the final whistle and were left to savor their win over the crosstown rival for the first time in seven years.
“They were competing for a Pac-12 title, and we just wanted to make sure we came out and denied them that, but we did it for ourselves,” Burns said.
“We have a quick turnaround. We have the selection show on Monday,” Alukonis said. “We think we will host the first round; we are just excited to see who we will play against.”
USC is waiting for their postseason draw as the NCAA selection show will happen next Monday, November 7 at 1 p.m.